Congratulations! You have finally found a house that you want to call home! Once you are officially under-contract (which means that you submitted an offer on a house, and the sellers have accepted the terms and signed the offer to acknowledge the acceptance), there are a few things you will need to do right away!
First things first, if you are using a loan to purchase the home, make sure your lender has a copy of the executed contract. This will ensure that he or she gets the ball rolling on the funding side. Next, you will need to write two checks, the option money check and the earnest money check. The amounts for each of these checks will already be determined in the contract. You will want to make the option money check out to the sellers and the earnest money check out to the title company. You have three days to submit these checks. For the earnest money check, that means three business days since that check is going to the title company and they probably won’t be open over the weekend. For the option money check, that one must be delivered within three real days. This sounds pretty easy in theory, but in reality it can be a bit trickier to execute. What if you are out of state, and the contract is executed late on Friday? You may need to have the checks overnighted, or sometimes, you can wire the total amount for both checks to the title company and the title company will cut the option check out of the total wire.
Aside from making sure your two checks get to the appropriate parties on time, you also will want to schedule your inspections. A home inspection is always a prudent choice. The inspector will go over all the various aspects of your home with a fine tooth comb, and point out any areas of concern. You may want additional inspections during the option period too. If the home is on a septic system, it’s a good idea to get a septic inspection. Likewise, if it has a pool you may want to get that inspected too. The option period is your time to do any and all necessary due-diligence on the property. If there is something unveiled that’s a deal breaker, you can back out of the contract without losing your earnest money.
You may also consider scheduling some contractors during the option period. If you’re planning to remodel or make any structural changes to the home, you can get quotes and advice from qualified contractors during this time. If purchasing this home is contingent on being able to remove a wall, and the contractor reveals it will cost way more than you can afford, you can still back out of the contract during the option period.
Before your option period ends, you have the opportunity to renegotiate. If there were serious issues revealed in the inspection, you can prepare an amendment to state that the seller will either fix these issues, or you can negotiate money off the sales price so that you can complete these repairs. This is not the time to ask for $5k off the sales price because you don’t like the color of the home. This amendment should only be used to address concerns that you were not aware of until the inspector pointed them out to you.
If there are concerns you would like addressed, you will present your proposed solution to the seller. If the seller agrees to fix the issues or give you money off the sales price, you will both sign an amendment to the contract clarifying this agreement in writing. If you cannot come to an agreement, you can either back out of the contract or proceed with the sale knowing that you are going to have to fix these issues at your own expense after closing.
It’s important to schedule all of your inspections early in the option period to allow the time to review the findings and negotiate with the sellers if necessary. While you can still negotiate repairs after the option period, you have little leverage after the option period is over since you no longer have the ability to back out of the contract without losing your earnest money.
Once, the option period is over, there will be little for you to worry about until the closing date. You may need to provide more documentation to your lender, and if the home doesn’t appraise that could be another opportunity to negotiate the sales price. If you have questions about the buying process in Texas, feel free to contact me today. I’d be honored to help guide you through the process of finding a house to call home.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.