Offers, Contracts and Closing

A buyer makes an offer by submitting a written and signed offer to purchase. This document becomes the sales contract when signed by all parties involved. The selling agent customarily notifies the listing associate of the offer, and the listing associate will then arrange an appointment with the seller to present the offer.

At this point, the seller has  three  options:

  1. Accept the offer as written.
  2. Reject the offer if it is totally unacceptable.
  3. Counteroffer, changing any unacceptable conditions. (When the counteroffer goes back to the buyer, the buyer has the option of withdrawing, accepting, or countering the counteroffer.)

When both buyer and seller agree to all terms (including changes made in any counteroffer), and indicate agreement by their signatures, the contract becomes “firm.” With signatures and notification to all parties, a sales contract now exists.

Closing Details

Several professionals may come into the home-selling process after the offer is accepted, including a housing inspector (if hired by the buyer), a termite inspector, and an appraiser.

If the buyer is financing the purchase of your home, the process will typically take 30 to 60 days. On the chance that a buyer’s financing will not be given final approval, you should keep the house in good “showing” condition.

As part of the contract process, you must prove to the buyer that you have a clear title on the house –– that you own the property, and that there are no legal claims against it. The attorney representing the buyer and/or financial institution will do a title search and issue an opinion that the title is clear. Your Champion sales associate or attorney can help you gather the paperwork that the contract requires.

Some of the details you will need to handle include:

  • Notifying your lender that you will be paying off the mortgage and asking for a statement of what you owe. Your outstanding balance will be subtracted from the amount you receive from the seller.
  • Having any fix-up work completed according to the contract, so that final inspections may take place.
  • Gathering all warranties and instruction books for your home’s appliances or major systems to give to the buyer.
  • Once you have a closing date established, notifying the utility, telephone, water and other services to advise them on your final billing date.

A walk-through inspection prior to the closing allows the buyer to determine if conditions of the contract are satisfied. It is up to the buyer to perform the inspection, and if they should be accompanied by the selling and/or listing agent. The seller may or may not be present, but should make sure that utilities are on so that equipment can be operated. At the settlement (closing), the home seller should bring all warranties on equipment (or leave them in an obvious place in the house) and instructions on equipment maintenance or operation. Be sure to bring all keys and electric door openers. The closing attorney will explain the settlement sheets to you. These outline the closing costs to you.

Typical costs for the seller include:

  • State deed transfer tax
  • Mortgage balance pay-off
  • Interest on the mortgage up to the date the mortgage is paid off
  • The real estate commission
  • Pro-rated taxes and homeowner’s association dues, if applicable
  • Homeowner’s warranty

If property or homeowner’s insurance has been in escrow with your lender, you will receive any money that is accumulated in that escrow account for bills not yet due. Funds will be disbursed at or after settlement. The seller, the buyer, and the agents receive a copy of the settlement sheets.

Congratulations! Sold and settled!