Buying a home feels like a roller coaster ride from start to finish. From finding a real estate agent that suits your personalities to finding a home that you both agree upon, the home-buying process could be the first real test of your ability to work together as a couple. With new jobs starting and apartment leases expiring, having your ducks in a row and closing escrow on your new home fast alleviates anxiety about what to do with your things and where to stay.
Apply for full loan approval before you find a home. Even though you might not have decided on a property to pursue, submit all items requested by your loan officer for loan approval, including pay stubs, tax returns from previous years and investment account statements. Such paperwork may take time to gather and could prevent you from closing escrow as fast as you require, especially if you need to request copies of lost or misplaced paperwork from organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service.
Deposit cash for the down payment and closing costs in your bank account as early as possible. Your loan officer can provide you with detailed closing cost estimate. Whether you plan to borrow money from a relative or make a withdrawal from your 401k accounts, put the funds in your primary bank account so that they are available and ready to be withdrawn on closing day.
Accept seller's price and terms. Nothing makes a seller happier than getting her price. If you find a property in your price range that doesn't have any major problems, don't haggle for the sake of haggling. Sign and submit an offer immediately. Assuming that you have full loan approval, ask your real estate agent to suggest a close-in closing date that will allow your loan officer enough time to get the loan paperwork together and sent to the closing attorney. You might also offer the seller enough time to pack and move if needed.
Conduct a home inspection for information purposes only. A home inspection could delay close of escrow if you and the seller get hung up on negotiating repairs. For a property such as a recently constructed condo or town house with no issues, whether you should make the seller responsible for repairs is a no-brainer. If you are purchasing an older home, you might consider the information-only home inspection if you plan to remodel the home anyway or have the funds to pay for major repairs.
Get limited power of attorney for your spouse or partner in absentia. A limited power of attorney allows you to sign on behalf of your spouse if she works abroad, such as a military spouse, or if she will be out of town at the time of closing. Your personal attorney, or the closing attorney can draw up the limited power of attorney paperwork for you. Use an overnight mailing service to get the form to and back from your spouse or have her sign the paperwork before she goes out of town.
- As a home buyer, circumstances beyond your control, such as title defects, could delay closing. Some title issues are beyond the seller's control as well such as those that predate the current homeownership. Create a contingency plan, such as locating storage space and a hotel, or make plans with close friends and family in the event that you need a place to stay for a few days until title issues are resolved.
- Work with your real estate agent, his broker and your attorney to dissolve the contract, and to seek financial remedies, if the sellers do not do everything in their power to resolve title issues in a timely manner.
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