If you are reading this because you just had an offer accepted, CONGRATULATIONS! This is a very exciting time and there is probably a million questions and to-dos floating around in your mind. I hope this entry helps break down the process a little bit for you and helps prepare you for what to expect during the escrow process.
1. Deciding on a lender- Although you have been working with someone already in order to obtain your pre approval, you are not "locked" into using them for financing on your purchase. It is not uncommon to shop around for the best rate once you have an offer accepted. Different banks are able to offer different rates and programs for buyers, and there are many factors to consider when choosing your lender. Keep in mind, it is so so important to be confident that you will not only be getting the best rate, but also getting the best service. The level of service you receive may make or break your experience and can cost you down to the line if the lender does not perform in a timely manner. You should be making a final decision on who you will proceed with within the first couple days you are in contract.
2. Appraisal- Once you have chosen your lender, your rate will be locked and the appraisal will be ordered. The important thing to remember is that an appraisal is a third party OPINION of value. They do use certain metrics which are similar to what your Realtor may have used during their comparative market analysis, but they may also use their judgement in coming up with the appraised value. The comparative market analysis that your agent runs prior to making an offer, should give you a pretty good indication as to whether the home should appraise or not. Please check our blog regarding information about what happens when a property does not appraise.
3. Inspection of the property- During the first 17 days you are in contract, the seller is required to make the home "reasonably" available for your inspection, regardless of whether or not you have an inspection contingency. It is your right, but not your obligation to obtain a property inspection. You may also use this time to set up a visit with contractors to plan for any repairs or updating your plan on doing after taking possession of the home.
4. Waiting to close- Once your lender receives the appraisal back and has submitted all of your documents to underwriting, it is a little bit of a waiting game. Often times, the underwriter will come back with a list of conditions they will need prior to final approval, but you can think of this as "dotting the I and crossing the T". Once all conditions are met and we receive final approval, your lender will draw loan docs and have them sent to escrow for signing.
I really hope this helps answer some of your questions regarding what to expect once your offer is accepted. Please see our entry on "What to expect at sign off" for information on how to prepare for your loan doc signing appt.