The 17 Steps to Buying a House in NJ: From Offer To Closing And (Almost) Everything In Between

shutterstock_428857684The typical real estate purchase has a few steps along the way and they normally go in this order. Lets assume that you’ve already narrowed down the area you want to live in, your price range, and what you want in a house. You start looking for a house and you find one you like!

The 17 Steps To Buying a House in NJ

  1. Find an amazing house and decide you want to buy it!
  2. Put in an offer – We’ll discuss offer price and terms (how much you’re putting down, closing date, items included etc.) and come up with an offer that works for you and that we think would be realistic for the seller to accept. Then we’ll put it in writing in the form of a contract, sign it, and send it to the seller’s agent.
  3. Negotiate the offer – Now you wait for a response to your offer. Most likely your original offer won’t be accepted. When the seller’s respond it will most likely be a verbal response from their agent or an email or text. You may go back and forth like this a few times, or they may ask you to put each counteroffer in writing. Once you have verbally agreed on a price then we’ll finalize the written offer and you’ll sign it again and send it back to the sellers.
  4. Attorney Review – Once you choose an attorney, he/she has 3 business days to review the contract. During this time the attorneys will go back and forth negotiating the legal terms of the contract.
  5. Under Contract – Once the attorneys agree on their terms the house will be under contract. At this point it is much more difficult to get out of the contract, and is usually only for certain reasons like problems with the inspection or not being able to get a mortgage. (Steps 6-11 begin once Under Contract starts and canoverlap.)
  6. Inspection – You have a specified period of time (usually 14 days) to conduct your home inspection, radon, and termite inspections.
  7. Mortgage Commitment – Your lender will start working on the mortgage commitment and will be contacting you to provide them paperwork to do this.
  8. Additional Deposits – you may have 1 or 2 deposits scheduled so be sure to get them to the proper person by the required date. They are held in an escrow account by either the buyer’s attorney, the seller’s attorney, or the title company.
  9. Title Work – The title company will do a title search and other search to make sure there are no liens on the property.
  10. Get Homeowner’s Insurance – You will have to get homeowners insurance and provide proof of payment and coverage to your mortgage company.
  11. Certificate of Occupancy – Each town has its own requirements. They usually check for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Some townships will inspect other areas of the house for disrepair. The seller typically takes care of getting this but sometimes the buyer may have to do it.
  12. Clear To Close – Once you have your mortgage commitment and all the paperwork is in place and you are near the closing date the mortgage company will issue a clear to close
  13. Put Utilities into Your Name – Wait until the closing is scheduled and you are a few days away before switching utilities to your name. There are many times that closings are rescheduled or delayed and you don’t want to be paying utilities for the seller until you move in.
  14. Preliminary Walk through – Anyone can do a preliminary walk through. If you had the seller complete work on the house or think that issues may have arisen over the last few weeks you’ll definitely want to do one so the closing isn’t delayed if you find issues.
  15. Final Walk Through – Many people still do only 1 walk though and it is usually the day of or the day before the closing. You are going through the house to make sure it is in broom sweep clean condition and that everything looks the same and was taken care of since the last time you were there.
  16. Closing – This is it! This is when you meet with your attorney and title company to sign a mountain of paperwork. Once that is done you get the keys to your house!
  17. You’re a Homeowner!