33% of home buyers are first-timers, which means there are many people who have never navigated the process before. If it’s your first time purchasing a home, it may feel both daunting and exciting, all at once.

Although your realtor can help you out along the process, there are a few things you should know to make it easier. Here are 13 simple steps to closing on a house.

1. Open an Escrow Account

An escrow account is an account with the money and documents. The account holder is a neutral party to ensure neither you or the seller get taken advantage of.

During the entire real estate transaction, this neutral third party will be in charge of these vital things. At the very end, both the money and the documents will go to the appropriate parties to finish the transaction.

2. Get an Appraisal

Before you get a mortgage, you need to get an appraisal for the property. Thankfully, most lenders hire their own appraisers, so you won’t need to do much in this step.

But if the lender you’re looking at has asked you to find your own appraiser, you’ll have to do this as soon as possible so you can move onto getting pre-approval for your mortgage.

3. Get Pre-Approval for Your Mortgage

Taking care of this step can make the deal go quicker, and can also give you more control over it. When you can prove you have pre-approval for a mortgage, it’ll give the seller peace of mind, as they’ll know you have the appropriate funds for the purchase.

4. Lock in Your Interest Rate

Once you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, you’ll want to lock in your interest rate. Since mortgages can take a lengthy period of time to repay, the risk of interest rates rising is significantly high.

Eliminate this risk by locking in the interest rate you’re offered. This will depend on a number of factors, such as your credit score and property.

5. Perform a Title Search and Get Title Insurance

Theoretically, when you purchase a home, the title transfers from the seller to you. But there may be other people who potentially have a claim to the property, such as a tax collecting agency.

Performing a title search will enable you to find out if anyone has claims to the property. You can then get the seller to resolve these before you finalize the purchase.

Buying title insurance will protect you, should loss or damage happen. Possibilities of those occurrences can stem from liens or defects in the title or ownership of the home.

6. Hire a Real Estate Attorney

The state of South Carolina requires that you have a real estate attorney for closing. There are many documents with legal jargon in them, and you want to make sure you understand them before you sign.

With a real estate attorney on your side, they can help you navigate all documents and ensure you understand what you’re signing. They’ll protect your rights.

7. Negotiate the Costs Involved

Closing on a property doesn’t just involve paying the price of the home. There will be plenty of administrative fees, review fees for various documents, and processing fees. These are all considered junk fees, and your lender will most likely make you pay all of them.

Before you agree to it, speak with them and see if you can get them reduced or eliminated. You’d be surprised at what they’ll agree to, so it never hurts to try. 

8. Get a Home Inspection

A home inspection gives you the chance to see if there’s anything seriously wrong with the property. If there is, you’ll have the option of backing out of the deal.

Otherwise, if you have a home-inspection contingency, you can either ask for the seller to fix the problems or reimburse you for the repairs.

9. Get a Pest Inspection

Some lenders will require you get a pest inspection; it’s a good idea to get one anyway. Any type of infestation can lead to serious damage in the future, so you want to take care of any potential problems now.

If pests are found, you can usually convince the seller to pay for the pest control services.

10. Renegotiate Your Offer

If there were problems found in steps 8 and 9, you can renegotiate your offer, even if the seller has already accepted it. You can either lower your bid or keep it, but ask the seller to pay for repairs.

If they refuse to pay for major repairs and you’re not comfortable purchasing the property anymore, you have the chance to back out without any penalties.

11. Remove Any Contingencies

Your real estate agent should’ve drawn up a purchase offer that has contingencies. These need to be removed (in writing) by a specified date.

Since these can be approved passively if you don’t do anything by the deadlines, you’ll need to make sure you remove these contingencies in a timely fashion. 

12. Arrange for Payments Before Closing

If you don’t make payments on time before closing, not only can the deal get canceled, but your earnest money can go to the seller as well. Make sure you’ve made all the proper arrangements for your payments so this doesn’t occur.

13. Get a Final Walkthrough of the Property

A final walkthrough of the property you’re purchasing will let you see several things. For one, you ensure no new damage has happened in the time between the home inspection and the current time. Also, it lets you inspect whether or not the seller’s made acceptable fixes.

Use These Steps to Closing on a House for Success

With these steps to closing on a house, you’re better prepared for the home buying process. This is an exciting time in your life, so don’t let unnecessary details stress you out. By educating yourself before purchasing a house, you’ll take a lot of the burden off your shoulders and make it a more pleasant experience.

To get legal counsel for your real estate transaction, please contact our attorneys today.