Once the Buyer has decided on the property to purchase, the Selling Broker types a "Contract for Sale" to present a written offer to the Seller. The Buyer provides an earnest money check to accompany the offer to show Buyer's "Good faith" in finalizing the offer. The offered price, closing date, contingencies (such as financing) and any personal property will be included in the "Contract for Sale". The "Contract for Sale" is just an offer at this point.
The offer will be submitted to the Seller, who may counter, reject or accept the offer; only when the Seller agrees and signs the offered "Contract for Sale" and it is returned to the Buyer, will it become a binding contract. If the offer is countered by the Seller, the Buyer will have the opportunity to accept, reject or counter the Seller's counter offer. The process continues until accepted or rejected by the Seller and the Buyer. Only when the Seller accepts the final offer will the Buyer's earnest money be deposited into a trust account of the Listing Broker.
Once the "Contract for Sale" has been fully executed and earnest money deposited, instructions will be given to the closing agent who will proceed with the activities necessary for the closing. Buyers will need to immediately apply for a loan, if desired, and arrange for their funds to be available. The Seller, at Seller's expense will bring the abstract to date (history of the legal documents on the property that are recorded at the court house then adds any documents since the last title transfer). The Buyer's attorney will then prepare a title opinion of the abstract. Any requirements necessary to clear the title must be remedied by the Seller.
Once clear title has been determined, appraisals, surveys, inspections, etc. are coordinated through the closing agent on behalf of the Buyer who is responsible for the costs of the services performed in the event the closing does not happen, unless specified differently in the "Contract for Sale". The "Closing Date" can then be set, which may be earlier or later than the date in the contract, if both Buyer and Seller agree. Generally four to six weeks are required before a "Closing Date" can be set, sooner for a cash transaction.
At the "Closing", the Buyer and Seller will meet to sign the final papers and transfer title via the deed. The Buyer and Seller will be shown a "Settlement Statement" which will have all of the expenses allocated to either the Buyer or the Seller as referenced in the "Contract for Sale" or mutually agreed. The deed will be signed by the Seller, along with any required releases and the Buyer will sign any loan documents and any required releases. Funds will be exchanged and the sale will be "Closed". The deed is filed at the County Court House proving that you own the property, and the copy of the deed is placed in the abstract, for future reference.
The offer must be in writing in the form of a "Contract for Sale" accompanied by earnest money.
The Seller doesn't have to accept the Buyer's offer or any offer.
The Seller will consider all offers, no matter which is first. The Listing Broker must tell the Seller of potential other offers, and then the Seller must decide whether to wait or not.
The Seller is not required to select the highest offer, and will consider all terms and contingencies.
If the Buyer fails to close (once the contract is executed) at no fault of Seller, Buyer will lose the earnest money if there is no contingency to the contrary and after all the proper releases are signed. Furthermore, Buyer will be responsible for any expenses incurred on Buyer's behalf, in addition to the earnest money. If the earnest money can legally be returned to the Buyer, the expenses could then be taken from that returned earnest money amount. Seller must pay for the cost of updating the abstract, but it might be used on a future transaction, depending on the timing.
If the Seller fails to close (once the contract is executed) at no fault of Buyer, the earnest money will be returned to the Buyer upon mutual execution of proper releases. Buyer may have sufficient grounds to force the Seller to sell by a legal practice called "Specific Performance", but this is rarely used. Seller will be responsible for any expenses incurred on Seller's behalf and , Buyer will be responsible for any expenses incurred on Buyer's behalf.
Once a current or future property owner (the Borrower) has decided to use financing on a property, the first step in the "Conventional Loan" process is to obtain a credit report from the Loan Originator (the local contact for the Lender). The credit report should be from a national source to identify any "glitches" that may be on larger databases, and not just from a local reporting agency. The credit report many times generates a credit score that help the Lender (the Mortgage Company) establish a profile of the Borrower's payment history. Please note that the ability of the Borrower to obtain credit is not necessarily a reflection of a good credit score, which focuses on payment timeliness, collections and the amount of credit already extended. The credit report also should show all of the borrowers current debts (including credit cards) and their associated payments. This process involves signing a credit authorization and includes the Borrower's (and Co-Borrower's/Spouse's) Social Security Number(s) and takes about ten minutes. A list of creditors and their contact information for corrections should also be provided for the Borrower's reference. Many times the accounts are reported twice or may not have been properly released, and create an ongoing problem with our current state of technology.
Once a report shows a satisfactory credit score, the income of the Borrower is compared to the debts of the Borrower to obtain a "Debt Ratio", which shows if a Borrower has too much debt to handle the loan payment. A Good Faith Estimate is generated that identifies the costs the Borrower will incur to get the loan for example loan application fees, appraisals, surveys, abstracting, title opinions, document preparation and recording, discount points ( percentage of loan to buy a rate down, if any) and origination fees (percentage of the loan charged to process the loan, if any). The Good Faith Estimate also shows the amount of money needed for prepaid items like interest, property taxes and property insurance.
When the debt ratio appears within limits and the Good Faith Estimate is acceptable, a loan application must be completed and signed by the Borrower(s) and sent to the Lender. (In some refinancing cases, the Borrower may pay for an appraisal prior to submitting the loan application, to determine the maximum amount of the loan they can acquire. In a purchase situation, the contract will determine the maximum value, as long as supported by the appraisal.)
A list of things to bring to the loan application appointment will assist the Borrower in gathering documents that the Lender's underwriter will need for their review. The underwriter may ask for explanations or additional documentation depending on the circumstances and many times can not be absolutely anticipated by the Loan Originator. Borrower's that are self-employed or own interests in real estate investments, partnerships, corporations or trusts will have to provide more information and the process may take longer and require more explanations, but can be rewarded by a low interest rate compared to local bank financing which may be easier to obtain although at a higher rate and shorter term.
Once the loan application has been submitted and most of the underwriter's credit requirements have been satisfied, a Conditional Approval is issued by the Lender. This generally involves a few more conditions to be satisfied like good title and the proper appraised value for the loan, but may require a few more detailed explanations. At this time the rate can be locked (or fixed) and an appraisal, survey and abstract bring-to-date are ordered. Once the abstract is brought to date, the Borrower's attorney will prepare a title opinion in order to get a commitment for the title insurance policy for the Lender. Any title problems must be cleared at this time and prior to proceeding further. In such cases where the loan is larger than 80% (75% when any cash is taken out) of the appraised value, additional insurance called Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) must be collected until the loan principle value falls below the required limit previously mentioned.
Once clear title has been determined, then the appraisals, surveys, inspections, etc. are coordinated through the closing company. The "Closing Date" can then be set. At the "Closing", the Borrower will be shown a "Settlement Statement" which will have all of the expenses charged to the Borrower. The Borrower will sign any loan documents or affiliated forms. Funds will be exchanged and the sale will be "Closed" (or there will be a three-day right to rescind in the event of refinancing prior to funding). The mortgage is filed at the County Court House proving that you owe money on the property, and the copy of the mortgage is placed in the abstract, for future reference.