Even the most seasoned sellers can feel lost during a real estate transaction. That’s why we’ve broken the process down into this simple explanation that covers the basics. Think of it as your map to the closing table. Understanding the steps involved can help you expect the unexpected and make it an easy and straightforward experience.
It is important to choose an experienced agent that you feel understands your property, the market and your communication style. ROOTS is committed to making sure our clients are heard and that each client receives the highest quality of service personally tailored to their needs. We encourage you to explore your options, but hope your search will end with ROOTS. Once you choose an agent, you will need to sign a listing agreement that will outline the technical specifics of your agreement - this document is required to list a property on the MLS (multiple listing service).
This stage can vary widely depending on the condition of the home and whether or not it is occupied. Your agent will be armed with the information and materials to help you prioritize any necessary repairs and stage the home so it shines in photos. Professional photos and a personalized property website are included with every ROOTS listing. Additionally, before your property hits the market, the pre-listing groundwork must be laid. Primarily this means some light paperwork and locating files from when you purchased the property. While every property is different, typically you will need to fill out a seller’s disclosure, locate the survey (or order a new one), notarize a t-47, and order an Energy Audit (if in the city of Austin). Your agent will assist you in identifying which documents are necessary, helpful, or superfluous for your property.
Once the photographs are ready, the property can be listed on the Austin MLS - this is the comprehensive online database of properties for sales in the area. If your property is occupied, your agent will work with you to determine the most effective and comfortable way to arrange showings. While it is on the market, the property should be kept tidy and as "show-ready" as reasonable.
When an offer is received, your agent will notify you and help you interpret and navigate the contract. Depending on the terms, you many want to counter some parts of the offer - negotiations can go back and forth as many times as necessary for both parties to come to an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the offer is void with no financial obligations for either party.
Once both parties have agreed to the terms of the offer, by initialing and signing it, the contract is now considered “executed”. The buyer’s agent then delivers the earnest money and contract to the title company where it is held in an escrow account until closing. The option money is delivered directly to you and is yours to deposit.
The title company will email the executed contract to the buyers, sellers, and the agents involved. From this point on, the title company will serve as a liaison between the involved parties— collecting information, ordering the survey, maintaining the escrow account, etc. The title company also ensures that the title to a property has no claims against it and can be freely transferred. They will contact you directly to request confirmation of marital status, payoff information, etc.
The option period is a time for the buyers to do their due diligence, have the property inspected and negotiate any potential repairs. During this time, buyers reserve the unrestricted right to cancel the contract. Typically, option periods are between 7 and 10 days. In most cases the option fee is credited to the buyer at closing. If the buyer chooses to terminate the contract within the option period, however, the option fee is forfeited to the seller and the earnest money will be refunded to the buyer.
After the option period, the lender required appraisal will be ordered on the buyers behalf, unless it is a cash purchase. Sellers typically do not receive a copy of the appraisal unless the value comes back below the contract price.
Once the loan has gone through underwriting and the lender has issued a "clear to close", you will be sent a Closing Disclosure which outlines the financial particulars of the transaction and has the final total of funds due to you at closing.
Generally within 24 hours of closing, the buyers will schedule a final walk-through of the property to ensure that any negotiated repairs have been made and the home is in satisfactory condition.
The buyer and seller generally close on the same day, but not at the same time. Your appointment often takes 30 minutes or less and occurs at the title company. After documents are signed by both parties, the title company sends the file to the lender for final approval. Once this occurs, the loan is considered “funded", proceeds are disbursed to the seller and keys are released to the buyer. This usually occurs on the closing date.
Breathe easy and smile as you start a new chapter in your life!