The Home Buying Process
Real estate transactions are complicated, have a lot of moving parts, deadlines and legal documents. Communication is key to making the buyer feel like they are in good hands. We have outlined what to expect when buying a home in Charlotte, NC. If you are relocating from somewhere else, you may find this process to be a little different than you have experienced in the past.
Speak with a mortgage broker and find out what you can afford to buy (if you do not have a mortgage banker, we can refer you to several who work in the Charlotte area)
Get a written pre-qualification or pre-approval to share with your real estate agent and seller
Gather your last 2 years of tax returns, bank statements and pay stubs (at the very least, make sure that you have quick access to them when you apply for the mortgage or you could delay the process)
If you are not going to get a mortgage, make a copy of your proof of funds to share with a real estate agent and seller (make sure to black out the account number but have your name legible)
Begin the Search
Visit Realtor.com and choose some favorite properties to share with your real estate agent
If you are local, drive around and check out the area around the favorite properties
If you are not local, connect with a real estate agent (we would be happy to help) to gather information about the area
Work with your agent to narrow down areas of real interest
Make a plan to visit the properties (try to see no more than 5 in one day or they will start to run together)
Ask your real estate agent for a print out with the details of each property
Make notes about what you do like and what you do not like about each property that you see
When you see a property you love, be prepared to make an offer
There are things you need to decide before signing an offer to purchase (everything needs to be outlined in the Offer to Purchase so that it may be negotiated)
How much do you want to offer?
How much will you offer to put into escrow (held in a trust account and applied toward your purchase at closing, will not be returned to you if you do not follow through with the purchase in the allotted time period)
How much will you offer in Due Diligence money (this is a fee paid to the sellers in NC for the privilege of taking the house off of the market while you do your investigation)
Are you asking the sellers to contribute any funds to the closing (your real estate agent can advise you when this is a good idea and when it might jeopardize your purchase)?
How much time do you need to ask for to complete your due diligence (this includes contingent approval on your mortgage, appraisal, inspections and repair negotiations)?
Are you asking for any appliances (refrigerator, washer, dryer, smart home devices)?
Do you want to ask for anything else (drapes, furnishings, outdoor furnishings or equipment, etc.)?
The offer is not valid until all purchasing parties have signed the Offer to Purchase and additional documents AND the real estate agent has presented it to the seller's real estate agent.
The seller may accept, negotiate or reject your offer.
When all parties have agreed to the terms of the sale, and signed all of the paperwork the clock starts on the Due Diligence period.
Deliver funds for the Due Diligence fee and the earnest money check to your real estate agent.
Your real estate agent will deliver the checks to the appropriate recipients and have a receipt of funds signed.
Due Diligence Period
Send your mortgage banker a copy of the signed offer to purchase with supporting documentation (if any)
Make sure the mortgage company is aware of the due diligence date and your need to have the appraisal and contingent approval within this time period
Connect your mortgage banker with your real estate agent and allow the mortgage company to update your real estate agent during the process
Your real estate agent will schedule any inspections that you agree upon. You may choose the inspection company or you may allow your real estate agent to choose the inspection company.
Pay for the inspection or have your real estate agent find out if there is an additional fee to pay for the inspection at closing
Go over the inspection with your real estate agent and decide what to ask for in regards to repairs or a credit to take of repairs yourself after closing.
Decide if there is a need to bring out a specialist if there is something questionable on the inspection report (engineer, roofer, hvac specialist, septic specialist, well specialist, etc.).
Make sure that the appraisal supports the offer amount and that you have contingent approval (you are approved if nothing changes before closing such as income, debt or condition of property) of your loan
Sign the repair request or document stating what the seller is agreeing to credit you for repairs.
If there is anything that you do not like during the Due Diligence Period, you may walk away from the deal (in North Carolina) and you will forfeit the Due Diligence fee that you paid to the sellers. If you are within your Due Diligence period, you will receive your earnest money from the trust account holder.
You may receive a very lengthy inspection report. This is not necessarily cause for concern. Every company creates their reports a little differently and add language designed to educate potential buyers about general home features. A long report does not mean that it is a bad home.
Inspections are often misperceived as a guarantee that everything in the home, not on the inspection report, is in perfect working order
Inspectors are not always general contractors. They have broad knowledge of how things should work in a home and experience seeing a variety of properties.
If there is a question about the operation of any equipment, the structural integrity, the roof, the septic, the well, the crawl space, the foundation, the windows or anything else, consider spending the extra money to have a specialist take a look at that particular item.
Homes that are being resold are generally not in new condition. An inspector may point out something that is working now, but needs to be on your radar for the future. These are courtesy items that the inspector wants you to be aware of and is stating that they are working as expected today.
Inspectors are human and may miss something. They can also only inspect what they can see. They will not be able to see inside of the walls, behind large furniture and maybe even in the attic if there are belongings in the way. They will not move the seller's belongings to access any area.
Once repairs are agreed upon and completed, you have the right to re-inspect the property.
You may choose to look at the repairs yourself to determine if they are up to your standards. Or, you can choose to pay a small fee to the original inspector to take a look at the items that have been repaired.
Repairs are a contractural obligation but may not hold up closing. If there is some question as to whether the repairs can be done in the time before closing, you may want to negotiate the money for repairs instead.
14 Day Delay
In NC, a buyer may have up to 14 days to delay closing without penalty. The buyer's real estate agent should notify the seller's real estate agent, the closing attorney and the mortgage company if there is going to be a delay for any reason.
If the delay is caused by the mortgage company because the funding could not happen on the original closing date, the mortgage company should notify the buyer who should immediately notify their real estate agent.
The morning of or the evening before closing, you should be prepared to walk through the property and make sure everything has been removed and the home is broom clean
Check closets, the garage and attic to make sure everything that should be there is there and everything that should have been removed has been removed.
Any minor scuffs due to the normal wear and tear of a move is to be expected. If there is anything major like a hole in the wall, broken tiles or other big issues, your real estate agent will notify the seller's agent right away to make arrangements for repair or a credit for you to repair the damage.
You will go to the closing attorney's office to sign the paperwork and get the keys to your new home!
The sale is final and you may get your keys when your loan has funded, the money has been transferred to the attorney and the deed has been recorded. This can take up to a couple of hours after you sign the paperwork.
Once the deed is recorded, the home is yours!
If some of the terms in the process are confusing or you want to know what documents are necessary for the buying process, visit our terms page. We would love to help you with your move to the Charlotte area. You can email us or call us at 704-604-6070.