Contract to Closing Checklist

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You did it! You’re now under contract. Below are the next few steps you will need to take to close on time. Most of them are time-sensitive. Please read through the following steps and call, text, or email if you have any further questions. 


  • Earnest Money 

    Typically a buyer has 3 to 5 business days, depending on the contract terms, to deliver the earnest money to whoever holds the earnest money. If the earnest money is not deposited within the agreed amount of days, the contract is voidable per the state contract.  Check your  ” Contract For The Sale and Purchase Real Estate” document under “earnest money” or ask your Realtor what you need to do. A Buyer can personally deliver or send the earnest money to its destination.

    *** If a buyer backs out of a contract for a legitimate contingency – one that is outlined in their contract, the buyer can keep their earnest money. If the buyer backs out after the expiration date of a contingency or for an illegitimate reason, the buyer will forfeit their earnest money to the seller.

  • Insurance

    Typically the buyer has 10 business days to find acceptable insurance depending on the contract. Finding the best and most affordable insurance quote can greatly affect the buyer’s monthly payment. See our “recommendation” tab for local recommended insurance agents.  Recommended Insurance Agents 

    *** If the property is in a floodzone check to see if the flood insurance is transferable. You must have the transfer signed before you close! Transferable flood insurance is often cheaper than a new flood policy.

  • Home Inspection

    We highly recommend all buyers obtain a home inspection. Under the terms of a typical contract, the home inspection must be completed within 10 business days after accepting terms (going under contract). Once the home inspection report has been completed and delivered, the buyer has X days (depends on the contract) to negotiate with the seller to repair items on the inspection report. The buyer can back out of the contract and receive a full refund of their earnest money if they and the seller cannot reach an agreement on repairs to be completed. If the buyer is just unhappy with what they find on the inspection report, they may also withdraw from the contract and get their earnest money back. If the seller agrees to repair the items of concern, the buyer has the right to have the inspector re-inspect the property for a small fee. Home inspection fees are typically paid before closing to the inspector, and most cost between $300-$400 depending on the square footage of the property. Most often, buyers pay for their own home inspection, and they can use the inspector of their choice. We have a great list of preferred inspectors we work with regularly, some of which we ourselves have personally used in the past and are happy to recommend.  Recommended Inspectors

    *** In a hot market where buyers are competing with multiple offers, a buyer can “skip” the home inspection contingency but still obtain a home inspection to make sure they want to move forward with the purchase of the property.

  • Other Inspections

    Depending on the property and contract terms, some properties and lenders require additional inspections. Ask your Realtor or lender if your loan requires a well or septic inspection. Also, some buyers choose to obtain a survey, pool inspection, etc. Ensure you are responsible for an inspection to get the inspection completed in the time frame negotiated.  Recommended Inspectors

    ***If the buyer is a VA buyer, the well and septic inspection will have special instructions.

  • Appraisal

    A cash buyer is not required to obtain an appraisal but can do so if they choose.

    If the buyer is using a loan, the lender will require an appraisal.  Once the property passes inspection and requested repairs have been completed, the appraisal is ordered by the buyer’s lender. The lender will typically have the buyer sign an authorization at the beginning of the loan process to order an appraisal. So if there are home inspection issues that are still unresolved by the time the appraisal is ready to be ordered, it is important to let the lender know.

    NOTE: Typically, a buyer does not want to order the appraisal until the inspection has been completed. If the buyer backs out due to the inspection, they will have to pay for the inspection and the appraisal on a home they are no longer purchasing. The appraiser cannot be chosen by a lender, buyer, seller, or Realtor with a loan. The appraiser will be randomly chosen by the lending companies automatic system. If the property does not appraise for value, there are really 5 options. 1-The seller can either renegotiate for a lower purchase price that reflects the appraised value (most common). 2- The buyer can pay the difference out of pocket between the appraised value and the contract price. 3 – The buyer can back out of the contract and receive a refund of their earnest money.  4 – Buyer and Seller can meet in the middle to renegotiate the contract. 5 – Buyer or Seller can request re-appraisal, but the lender would have to agree. Appraisals typically cost between $450 – $550, and the fees must be paid before they are ordered. Once the appraisal is ordered, it may take 1 – 2 weeks for the appraisal to be completed.

    *** If the property does not appraise for value, the buyer has the right to back out the contract and obtain their earnest money back if the contract has an appraisal contingency. If there is an appraisal contingency, the seller has the right to reduce the appraised value or request the buyer to pay over the appraiser’s value – but the buyer may back out of the contract.

  • Utilities 

    Don’t forget to call the utility companies BEFORE closing day. As a seller, you need to know that the utilities must be on for the inspection and the buyer’s final walkthrough. Upon request, many companies will automatically transfer the buyer’s name to the account on the closing day but don’t schedule the transfer too early in case the closing date changes. A few companies, such as many water and waste providers, will only allow buyers to change the bill into their name with proof of the deed. You will get a copy of the deed at closing.

  • Termite Inspection

    Unless otherwise negotiated in the contract, the termite inspection is typically the last inspection step completed in the purchase process. A Wood Destroying Termite Report (WDIR) has an expiration date and must not expire before closing. Typically, the seller will pay for the termite inspection, but the buyer can purchase their own. See our “recommendations” tab.  Recommended Inspectors

  • Closing Disclosure 

    The closing attorney or lender will send the buyer and seller a “closing disclosure,” showing the exact amount of funds they will need to bring to closing or will be receiving at closing. Any funds brought to closing must be in the form of a certified check. The buyer will need to choose a closing attorney the day they are under contract. If it is agreed that the seller will choose the closing attorney, they will need to make this decision the day they are officially under contract. The closing attorney is essential. This is the person who will do a title examination, correct any title issues, and record the change of deed. If you do not have a real estate closing attorney, we have a list of great ones we highly recommend you take advantage of.

  • Final Walk-Through

    After the seller has officially moved out, the buyer will complete a final walkthrough to ensure no damage has been done during the moving process. If the property is new construction, the buyer will complete at least two walkthroughs to ensure all items negotiated have been properly completed. Let your Realtor know when you’re available to complete the final walkthrough.

  • Closing Day  

    Be prepared! Unless you’re a cash buyer, closing typically takes 1 -1.5 hours. Anyone signing documents will need to bring their valid photo ID and a certified check for any funds needed to close on closing day. If you are married or purchasing a property jointly with another party, your spouse or the other party must be present to sign documents as well.  Recommended Closing Attorneys