Got a Home Offer Accepted? Here's Your To-Do List

It finally happened. After touring homes for sale and worrying that you might not find anything worth buying (been there), you fell in love with a house. So you had your real estate agent craft the perfect offer, and the seller accepted. Congratulations! Here’s what happens now.

Hire a real estate attorney

Some states require lawyer involvement when a piece of real estate is bought or sold. Yes, this will represent an extra cost to you as the buyer, but it helps to think of it as an extra layer of protection. Your attorney will review your purchase contract, ensure your interests and finances are protected in the transaction, and make sure no outstanding liens remain on the home you’re buying — you want a clean title.

It’ll be on you to find that attorney, but the odds are good your real estate agent will have suggestions for good local options. Local is important, because you want someone who is well versed in local laws and has a good grasp of how everything works in your market.

Get a home inspection

I hope you didn’t waive the home inspection to get your offer accepted! Ideally not — which means it’s time to get a home inspector to comb through your future property and look for potential problems. Your real estate agent might have suggestions for you here, too, but I highly recommend doing your own research. Take to the internet and look for reviews of any home inspection company you’re considering using.

Ideally, you want to see reviews noting that the inspector did a thorough job and was reassuring. Having a house inspected is nerve-wracking — it might have looked great when you toured it and made the offer, but you never know if mold could be lurking in the attic or if the electrical system is built on knob and tube wiring.

Formally apply for a mortgage

In this competitive housing market, it’s likely that you got pre-approval for a mortgage before you started house hunting — doing so would’ve given you an edge over fellow wannabe homeowners who didn’t. Once you’re satisfied with the results of your home inspection and ready to follow through with the purchase, it’s time to formally apply and get your official mortgage rate. Your mortgage lender will probably need additional items from you, such as updated pay stubs or bank statements.

More: Check out our picks for the best mortgage lenders

Having the rate information in writing will allow you to formally decide on mortgage terms, if you were going back and forth between options like a 30-year fixed or adjustable-rate mortgage. And you’ll be given the chance to lock your mortgage rate, so it won’t change between application and closing, which means you’ll find out how much your monthly payments will be.

Line up homeowners insurance

If you’re selling a home and buying a new one at the same time, you might elect to use the same insurance company for your new policy (not a bad idea to shop around anyway, though — you might save money).

But if you’re going from renter to homeowner, it pays to take the time to dig in to research how much insurance you’ll need for your new home. From there, you can collect quotes from home insurers to see which will give you the best deal for the right amount of coverage. Consider bundling with your auto insurance for more savings.

Make a plan for moving

It might be a bit soon to start packing, but it’s not too soon to plan. Make a moving budget (and pad it by $500 — moving always costs more than you think it will) and start opening closets and seeing what you can get rid of before you move. Decide how you’ll be moving, because you have options: moving truck, trailer, cargo container, friend’s station wagon?

Consider hiring movers, and perhaps calling around to local companies to see about prices. Hiring professionals will increase the cost of your move, but the extra credit card charge can be worth it to save your back and your sanity.

Keep maintaining your finances

OK, this last one is extremely important. Resist the urge to go on a shopping spree and finance some new furniture for your sweet new digs. Don’t open a new credit card so you can take advantage of a 0% APR offer and upgrade that scratched up glass top stove. And definitely don’t quit your job.

Leave your finances exactly as they are while your mortgage is with the underwriters and being set in stone. Don’t make any changes until after closing, when the house is legally yours. Taking on new debt or making a big change to your finances could make you a riskier borrower, which might mean losing out on that mortgage you worked so hard to get.

Having an offer accepted is incredibly exciting, especially if you’ve been waiting a long time to become a homeowner. But it’s really only the beginning — as you’ve just read, there’s so much more to do before that house is officially your home.

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