What Happens After an Offer is Accepted on a House?

You've found the home you want! After completing your loan pre-approval and structuring a competitive offer, you get word that your offer has been accepted. As a buyer, once you make an offer on your dream home, the days leading up to hearing the words, "offer accepted" can be nerve-wracking. However, hearing those words from your real estate agent is just the first hurdle.

After celebrating the good news of scoring your dream home and your accepted offer, you might wonder what your next steps are. Whether you're a buyer or seller, the home selling process can be tricky and the work is far from over until the transaction closes. Here's what to expect after your offer has been accepted.

Once your offer is accepted, be prepared to seal the deal with an earnest money deposit. This is usually a percentage of the home's purchase price that indicates you're serious about buying and indicates your good faith. A deposit is generally a cash offer that is applied to the purchase price when you complete the transaction, but may be forfeited to the seller if you fail to satisfy the purchase. Your real estate agent or broker can help determine the deposit amount you should be prepared to pay, based on your target home price.

Many first-time buyers are taken by surprise when it comes to the deposit, especially if they have to make a fast offer. You should have funds available in your checking account so you can wire funds to escrow the day your offer is accepted. This item could be very important, and the deciding factor in your offer being accepted or not. Be sure to focus on your deposit when developing your negotiating strategy.

The appraisal is the part of the loan application process where you get an estimate of the home's value. Your mortgage lender will want to ensure the home is worth the amount you are borrowing. As a potential buyer, it is your responsibility to pay for the appraisal.

Be sure to schedule a home inspection and a pest inspection sooner rather than later. This step is important because if the house shows structural issues or fails the pest inspection, you only have a small window to cancel the sales contract. The inspections can be scheduled on your own and independent of your appraisal date.

This is the phase of the home-buying process when all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. It’s when due diligence is performed to make sure your home loan has been approved by your mortgage lender, the property is in the condition you expect, passes home inspection, and all legal documents pertaining to homeownership are prepared and officially recorded.

What to know about home inspections