Why going under contract is NOT the time to celebrate and why doing a specific list of things during this phase of the selling process will make or break your home sale.
Think of me as the project manager or even the event coordinator from the time you go under contract to well after closing. My job is to work with all parties to make sure everyone does what they are supposed to do so that we close escrow on time and with the least amount of stress and hassles for you as possible.
I’ll be working with you, the buyer’s agent, the buyer’s lender, the title company, and any other vendors we need to involve during this phase of the selling process. My job is to assign tasks, continue to negotiate terms on your behalf, and make sure deadlines are met by everyone involved, and then, of course, keep you up-to-date on the progress along the way.
More than anything, though, my job is to make sure the terms you agreed to when you signed the contract are carried out correctly and on time. Often the under-contract phase feels a little “quiet.” That’s because there are more parties involved than before we went under contract. My goal is to make this phase not such a mystery for you and let you know who is doing what and when every few days.
Here’s a quick summary of what typically happening behind the scenes from going under contract to close of escrow:
- Estimated net sheet – talk about the numbers and what to expect (for example, did you know the amount your mortgage says is your balance is NOT the amount of your mortgage payoff)
- Track important dates – The very first thing I do when we go under contract is plot all the important dates in a timeline and share that with you. Depending on the terms you agreed to in the contract, this could be anything from when the earnest money will deposit, when contingencies are removed, to document review periods, to when the appraiser is coming to when any inspections are happening. I make sure you and I both know these crucial deadlines so we can make sure everything is done on time and keep all other parties on time too.
- Introductions – Next, I introduce myself and all the other parties involved in the process to each other and make sure they have everything they need, like a copy of the contract, to start their processing of the file. For example, I make sure the title company has a copy of the contract and your contact information so they can start working with you on things like the pay-off statement. I introduce myself to the buyer’s lender and make sure he or she has what they need from our side to start the loan processing. And, I make sure the lender and title company have each other’s contact information since they will need to work closely together throughout the process.
- Earnest Money Deposit – Remember, depending on the contract terms you agreed to (refer to last week’s article) you don’t always get this money back. So, we will review again when the buyer can cancel and get their deposit back, and when you are in the clear to receive their deposit if something changes. Not only that, but it needs to be deposited (preferably wired) by a certain date, and I follow up to make sure that happens.
- Inspection Process – Right now, it’s rare to have a home inspection contingency since we typically provide one upfront. But it does happen and here’s how we handle that. There are three parts to the inspection that we’ll discuss. Prepping for it, what happens during the inspection, and what happens after the inspection. Here’s a quick overview:
Prepping: You want your home to look the same way it did when the buyers first fell in love with it. So, for this stage, you’ll want to still have it clean, clutter-free and looking its best.
During the inspection: You’ll want to make sure everything is accessible and in good working order so your home is presented to both the inspector and the buyer in the best possible light.
After The Inspection: Once the inspection is completed, the ball is in the buyer’s court. Depending on how the inspection part of the contract was initially negotiated and agreed upon by both you and the buyers, the buyers may send a list of requests for repairs, they may cancel the contract entirely (very rare) or they will move forward by accepting the condition of the property. Depending on how they move forward after their inspection, we’ll have a game plan. We’ll either review the list of requests and negotiate what you will and won’t do by close of escrow, move forward without having to do a thing, or, in the rare instance where they cancel entirely, we’ll discuss when and how to put your home back on the market for a buyer who will love it.
- Track the buyer’s loan – I touch base with the buyer’s lender at very specific times during the under contract period to track the loan, make sure everything is going according to plan, that financing and appraisal contingency dates are being met, that the buyers have received their closing disclosure in the correct amount of time and that the title company has what they need from the lender to close on time on the agreed upon close of escrow day in the contract.
- Create an appraisal package and meet the appraiser – This is SO important. Homes are often selling for higher than recent sales aka “the comps” would support. Because of this, I want to make a strong case for the price that you and the buyer have agreed on. I put together a package of material that supports your agreed upon price. Things like the floor plans, including the square footage we measured since it’s typically not the same as what’s in the tax record, recent sales that support our price, a list of updates and improvements you’ve made to the home as well as a summary of how many offers we had and why the price got where it did. I then personally meet the appraiser and review anything that’s important for them to know or they might miss when doing their report.
- Vendor list: If you need suggestions for any contractors like moving companies, cleaners, any repairs, I will supply you a list of contractors I have used and recommend to make your move and any to-dos easier on you.
- Schedule Destaging—I”ll work with the stager to make sure that you aren’t charged for another month of staging once our contingencies expire and ensure the staging will be removed before the buyer’s walk-through.
- Sign removal – Time to take down the sign now that we are headed towards closing! I’ll call the sign company and get the order placed to remove the sign.
- Coordinate the final walk-through – Next up, I’ll coordinate the final walk-through with the buyers. Typically, the buyer’s final walk-through happens right before settlement. The point of the final walk-through is to make sure your home is ready for the buyers to take ownership and confirm that any home inspection items that were agreed to be fixed by you have been completed.
- Condition of home at Close of Escrow – Speaking of the buyer’s walk-through, one question I get a lot is about the condition a seller’s home must be in for settlement. The contract calls for your home to be in “broom swept” condition with all your belongings out. A good rule of thumb is to leave the home you sold in the same condition you’d like the home you are moving into to be left for you.
- Final To-Dos – About ten days before settlement, you’ll receive a final list of to-dos from me. It will serve as a reminder about when and how to do things like turn off your utilities, homeowners’ insurance, as well as gather things like keys, garage clickers, storage keys, parking permits, alarm codes, etc.—all the “tiny” things the buyers needs so you don’t have to think about it.
- Review your final documents and numbers with you prior to close – I don’t want the first time you are seeing your final numbers and everything you have to sign to officially sell your home to be at the closing table. That’s why, a few days before final sign off, as soon as those documents are ready from the title company, I schedule a time to review them all with you, so settlement is a breeze and you understand everything you are signing.
- Next Day Check In – Last, but not least, I’ll touch base with you after close of escrow to make sure you’ve received your funds in full and answer any last questions you have about your sale!
- Celebrate! Now’s the time to throw the confetti and finally celebrate. You’re officially DONE!
Phew! There’s a lot to do once you are under contract to ensure everything goes smoothly. But don’t worry, I’ll be with you every step of the way, being your project manager and giving you updates weekly, and at every important milestone. And, although I love having a plan so everything goes like clockwork, I’ve also got a plan b AND c so that no matter what happens, we won’t lose any time getting you to close on time.
If you’ve been thinking about selling your home and want to know how to get the very most for it, or you just want to handle over the keys and let me handle it all, I got you. The first step is for us to have a conversation about why you want to sell, where you are headed and when you want to be there. You can schedule that with me here on my calendar.
I believe that with Information, Preparation, and Strategy, you can achieve great success. Let me show you how!
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