You may remember at the beginning of this series I mentioned that before purchasing a home, I thought you sign a golden piece of paper and that’s it! You are homeowners. Perhaps I was naive but I am sorry to report that this is not the case. If my past posts haven’t proved that home buying is WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK (Like RiRi’s song…) than this post will do the trick for sure. So your offer has been accepted, great…. then what? Well let me tell you just that.
The day after the contract was signed and the offer was in place, we got an email from our realtor (thank goodness for her) with a laundry list of things to complete in order to close on time. Most items on the list were time sensitive and had a waterfall effect of sorts in that others couldn’t be completed until the items before it were complete. Also, there are so many hands on deck- the buyers, sellers, realtors, title company, lender, insurance company, inspection companies (home + termite), repair companies… and the list goes on. Therefore, follow up and organization of communications is essential to checking everything off the to-do list. (I should note that although Mack is SO busy, he handled most of this stuff. I had him review it to ensure it’s correct.)
Title Company + Earnest Money
The first thing we did was drop off our Earnest Money to the title company. I just googled it (which I remember doing at the time as well but I couldn’t remember) but essentially it’s money to secure a contract and ours was credited toward our closing costs. The title company is also who will order the termite inspection and where you will go to sign all closing documents.
Select a Lender
The bank you contact for you pre-approval is always a good option if you want to move forward with them specifically. We didn’t go with our pre-approval bank but instead choose a local lender. We did this because we liked the accessibility to their office, the fact that a human answered the phone (as opposed to an initial recording like at a big bank) and just felt most comfortable going with someone local.
Once you select the lender, there is an endless amount of secure information you have to provide to them so they can complete the process of getting your loan set up. Basically, everything pertaining to employment, proof of employment, bank statements, and so on. They will provide you with a list of deliverables and a time frame by which they need the information in full.
After all of the information is submitted, your lending officer will work to complete your loan and get it into escrow for closing. Your lender will also make you aware of when you need to lock in your interest rate. This has been to be done during a specific window in relation to your closing date and you want to lock it in at the lowest rate. Mack explained to me that sometimes this can be a challenge, although they are relatively low right now, the rate depends on a number of things including the stock market. But because you have no control over what the rate will be, you just have to lock it in when they say to do so and cross your fingers!
Home Inspections + Repairs
Our home required two home inspections; a standard home inspection and a termite inspection (I don’t know if this is specific to Florida). Our home inspection company was very thorough and made us aware of a few issues with our new home. I alluded to the importance of agreeing upon amounts that the seller will cover when it comes to closing and home repairs here, but this is so important. You never know what might “pop” at your inspection. They look at everything little thing and some issues are small and some are large. Large issues are costly. For example, the day of our home inspection, it just so happened that we had a terrible storm the night before that carried into the morning. So, it was raining during our inspection (side note, the inspector said that’s the best time do it). Anyways, they found a very small leak in our roof. BUT of course, Mack and I didn’t want to move into a home with a leaking roof. Because the seller agreed to pay up to a certain amount in repairs, they fixed the roof for us.
Our termite inspection was ordered by our title company and came back clean…. umm thank goodness!
You will want to have your new home appraised to make sure you’re not overpaying for the property. I believe that it was written into our contract that if the home appraisal came back lower than the agreed upon amount, we could get out of the contract and have the option to not purchase the home. Mack and I were lucky however and it appraised for more than we paid, cheers to THAT! Did I hear a cork pop?
We were required to have home insurance set up before closing day- I am not sure if this is standard or not. But obviously home insurance is something you need like car insurance, etc. I found this process to be irritating if I am being completely honest. For some reason, this about drove me crazy. Florida is a hard place to insure homes, especially if you are near the water. Basically, you home is high-risk (my words not the insurance companies haha) and so insurance is astronomical. I found that in reaching out a number of insurance companies, they all broker out your home to the same larger company. So, we received quotes from the SAME company but at three different rates… in what world does that make sense. Not to mention that on one my name was spelled wrong. If you know me and my thoughts on attention to detail then you know that I wasn’t having that! To spare you all of the drama, this large company and the three different agents who tried to get to me to acquire this policy were not getting my business. Back to the drawing board.
I contacted our lender and asked who she uses for HER home insurance. She gave me her agent, I called him, he was so helpful and explained every detail of coverage and adjustments that could be made. What a relief! We opted to use him- another local, Florida-approved insurance company to take on our home insurance.
Perhaps I was overthinking this in the moment, but in dealing with the other agents, I felt like we were being taken advantage of and it was clear that the company did not care about us or our home (why would they spell my name “CRITINA” on a quote? I am not kidding here and I wish I was!) Regardless, do your research and like always ask for referrals from people who actually live in your area. That was honestly a lifesaver for us!
Switch All Bills to Your Name
YAY, I know… the monthly bills! You have to get these in your name prior to closing day and you can tell them on which day specifically so you aren’t overpaying. But it has to be done to close. Call each company (water, sewage, electric, etc.) and give them your information. We also recommend setting up automatic bill pay and taking note of when it’s supposed to withdraw. That way, you can double check that everything runs as it should and you don’t miss any payments.
One final notes regarding the selection of each company that plays a part in this process. Our realtor refereed us to each and every company, with the exception of the insurance company which came from the lender. Our experience just goes to show the value of using a realtor and asking for recommendations. I probably compare too many things in life to our wedding but it’s the exact same thing. You use a wedding planner to have access to the vendors that they trust and use daily. In the real estate world, you hire a realtor to have access to the companies that they rely on to complete this work for client after client. I believe this was invaluable in saving us time and energy sifting through those companies that weren’t worth our time of day!
After all of this is completed, and if I am being honest, I probably missed something but I hope I didn’t! I had Mack double check this but in case we did forget something, I’ll update it and make sure to let you know.We are almost there! Next week, I will touch base on the actual closing day and how that all goes down. Two words…. hand cramps haha!
Thank you for spending a few moments of your time with my this Monday! I appreciate you and the fact that you are following along on this journey!