Once a buyer and seller have agreed to a deal on a home, there’s one final piece—the closing. The closing process usually takes about 30 days to complete and includes everything from a home inspection to signing the paperwork that finalizes the deal.
Contingencies are conditions of offer that must be fulfilled before the deal is closed. The offer defines the deadline for the removal of each contingency which commonly include appraisal, inspection, title and financing contingencies.
Good Faith Deposit
Within three days after the seller accepts an offer on a home, the buyer will deliver their good faith deposit, also known as the earnest money, to the escrow company, which it will hold during the transaction. 1%–3% of the sales price of the home is typical and it is applied toward the buyer’s closing costs. If the buyer decides not to move forward with the deal for any reason not covered by a contingency, their good faith deposit will likely be forfeit.
In the East Bay it is common for the seller to have the property inspected prior to placing it on the market so that the closing process can be expedited. Unless the buyer waives the home inspection contingency the next step is for the buyer to schedule their own home inspection. The inspection will take a few hours, and at the end the buyer will receive a report which will identify any minor or major issues discovered during the inspection. If the inspection contingency is not waived and an issue is discovered with the home the buyer has the option of backing out of the deal.
Unless the home is being purchased with cash the buyer will get a mortgage. At this point the lender will order a home appraisal to make sure that the home is worth what the buyer is offering. If the home does not appraise, the buyer may decided to make up the additional value in cash or if the home appraisal contingency has not been waived the buyer may at this time back out of the transaction.
Title & Financing
If the buyer has a title contingency, they will verify that the home's title is clear of any liens before completing the purchase of the home. Then the buyer will secure financing through their lender. If the buyer has a financing contingency and is not able to secure a loan, they can back out of the purchase and reclaim their earnest money.
Title insurance protects against losses in the event that a problem arises with the title after the home is purchased. Title insurance is required by the lender and buyer.
One of the final steps is the final walk-through to confirm:
The house is in the same condition as when the offer was accepted
All necessary repairs have been completed
Everything that was included as part of the sale is still in the home
Pay Closing Costs
The seller pays the listing and buyer agents’ commissions. Listing fee’s are negotiable but typically 5%-6%, which is split between the listing and buyer’s agent. Unless otherwise negotiated the buyer covers expenses like settlement fees, lender fees, and title insurance.