Offer accepted, now what?
June 12, 2009 11:17 AM   Subscribe

We picked out a house and our offer was accepted. Now what?

We put in an offer on a house, and it was accepted last night. Hooray! Now I'm feeling a little lost about what exactly I should be doing between now and closing and thereafter. The financing is handled, we are doing the inspection this weekend, have quotes for homeowner's and flood insurance, and the appraisal will be done next week. What else should I be doing? I'm concerned that with all the packing and chaos that we'll miss something that could be important or helpful.

So, what do you wish you had done differently or had known when you bought your house? What did you do that made the whole process easier? Any and all tips appreciated!
posted by tryniti to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
The best thing you can do if possible is to do the major work before you move in. Major remodeling that involves drywall, appliances, or even just painting are all good examples. If you can hang out in your current place for a month and efficiently use that time (it goes fast) to do the renovations, you'll be a lot happier moving in.
posted by kcm at 11:28 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Congratulations! If you're like me, the main thing you'll be doing is convincing yourself you haven't made a mistake. It sounds like you've got the actual mechanics under control. There's a lot of paperwork, and making sure the insurance and financing happen on schedule is stressful. But you'll get it done. Take the inspection seriously and attend yourself, this is your one big chance to make sure it's the house you want.

You should decide if there's any work you want to do to the house right away. In particular it's much, much easier to refinish floors or paint walls before you move stuff in. Beyond that, consider hiring a professional janitorial service to do a thorough cleaning of the house. I paid a crew of 10 folks to spend a whole day cleaning my place and am really glad for it.
posted by Nelson at 11:30 AM on June 12, 2009

Seconding others: I'd love to have avoided the hassle I had last year when my place was painted (some time after I moved in). And I'm going to have a similar issue next year when I get new floors.

Along those lines: take pictures before moving your stuff in, before and during any work you do or get done, in general document the life of your home. When I was a kid, I was always happy looking over old photos of the way the house used to be before my parents did significant amounts of work on it. Now that I've gone through similar work on my own place, I have no reliable memory of what my place looked like when I moved in.
posted by flipper at 11:33 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Attend the inspection and take notes. Ask not just about problems with the house, but about maintenance -- how often to clean this, or change that, who s/he recommends for plumbers, hvac, etc.
posted by palliser at 11:39 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

Do you have a real estate agent? Either way, the best bet is to print out a single calendar page and mark all the deadline dates for anything in the contract. You've covered the major ones already, but it is good to have all those written down, especially the back and forth that can be involved.

Date of inspection
Date of notification to seller (what you want fixed)
Date of acceptance/changes (what they are/are not going to fix)
Date of final walk-through (to make sure the changes were made correctly)

Date appraisal due
Date of notification of appraisal (If you have this as a stipulation in the contract, then this is the date you have to notify that the appraisal wasn't high enough for the lender - thus ending the purchase).

Check with your lender as to what dates you need to meet for all of their paperwork. This can vary wildly from loan to loan.

Make sure you or your agent are in contact with the Closing agent. Those last few days when everything is being put into place between the buyers, sellers, and lender are where paperwork doesn't get submitted in time.

Let me know if you have any specific questions, I'm a broker in Missouri, so your best bet is consult with your buyer's agent if you have one.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:46 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

It never hurts to talk to neighbors.
And, start getting bids from contractors to do an repair work
posted by Flood at 11:50 AM on June 12, 2009

Best answer: Congratulations! My fiancee and I just bought our first house in March. As we just went through the process, here are some of my thoughts:

#1 make a plan of tasks you need to do and prioritize them. When we closed, we had a plan for what we needed to do that day, the next day, the next week, and the next month. Might have been overkill and plenty of things came up to deviate from the plan, but having an idea of what we wanted and needed to do was really helpful.

#2 be very reception and adaptive to any curve balls that come up over the next few weeks. We thought our financing was in pretty good shape but there were still some tense moments and extra documentation that was requested at different times. Everything ended up OK for us, minus a 2 week push back in the closing date. The financing companies just seem to be really careful at this point and being thoroughly exhaustive.

#3 pay careful attention at the inspection. Hopefully your inspection will be a lot like mine. Not only did the guy point out repairs that needed to be negotiated, but he also gave me helpful advice on how to operate the hot water and heater and suggested good maintenance-type things to look out for in the years ahead. Don't look at it as a way to just find out what is wrong with the house, but look at it as a way to get a good (quick) introduction to the house.

#4 nthing the advice to paint beforehand. My fiancee and I made time to pick out the paint before we closed and were able to hit the ground running. With the help of family, we had the first two rooms painted in the evening we closed. By the end of a week we had every room painted. Made things so much easier and made it "ours" that much faster.

#5 figure out the quick route from your house to the nearest Lowe's, Home Depot, or other hardware store. I'm amazed at how many trips I've had to take since I moved in.

#6 make sure you have at least one take out/delivery menu before you move in. We ordered a few pizzas before we were able to fill up the fridge. Knowing the local places made it easier!

hope this helps! Good luck and congratulations.
posted by tommccabe at 11:51 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

Next time I move, I will purposely delay the move-in to several days after ownership is transferred, regardless of how much or how little maintenance I actually plan to do.

Because you just discover shit that needs doing. Light switches and outlets that don't work. Drawers and cabinets that need shelf paper. A phone or cable jack that needs to be installed or moved. Cobwebs in the corner of the garage that need to be sweeped up, only you didn't see it because the previous owner had boxes there.

A few days break will also allow you to do things that are necessary but smelly and unpleasant. Painting is obvious. But putting down fertilizer is smelly. Toss a few bug bombs around, or bug-spraying the outside of the house and garden is unpleasant, too.

Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. So, so, very much easier when the house is empty.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:05 PM on June 12, 2009

Pick through your belongings, and make sure to only keep the stuff you really want to move. Throw out the rest. This will avoid you (a) needlessly moving junk from one place to the other, and (b) dedicating a location in your new house for junk that won't get eliminated for years. We moved from a one-bedroom appartment into a house, so we figured that we had tons of space; we still have an unfinished room in our basement that is filled with crap that we are loathe to sift through.

Spend a whole day cleaning the house top-to-bottom before you move in, if you can.

Nthing taking notes about maintenance actions that the inspector mentions; I wish I had taken notes (or even videotaped!) the inspection so that I could review it to make sure I'm doing everything right.
posted by Simon Barclay at 12:21 PM on June 12, 2009

Congrats. Take a deep breath and memorize my we-just-bought-a-house mantra. "If this deal breaks down, nobody gets paid."

Afraid the real estate agent will forget to tell you what you need to bring to closing? If this deal breaks down, nobody gets paid.

Afraid you won't know when you need to turn something in? If this deal breaks down, nobody gets paid.

Afraid the bank will change their mind? If this deal breaks down nobody gets paid.
posted by advicepig at 12:22 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: When we bought our first house last year there were a few things that really helped.

Before we moved our stuff into the place:

- Arranged for a locksmith to come right after closing
- Arranged for the carpets to be cleaned
- Hired painters to paint everything (re-doing the ceilings is a treat that is a major PITA after moving but I love the crisp clean look)
- Had the whole place cleaned top to bottom

A few easy steps before hand really helped:

- Picked the paint colours before closing
- Thought about where the furniture would go (take measurements of the house) so that we wouldn't have to move anything twice (I made a diagram for the beds, sofas, book shelves etc...)
- Sorted out all of our stuff and basically got rid of everything in storage that was not camping equipment or Christmas stuff (less to move = yay!!)
- Packed all the bedroom stuff (including bedding) in an easy to find/access way so we set the bedroom up first of all, with cardboard taped over the windows(see kit below). It is really nice to have a place to get a good nights sleep while everything is in chaos.

Best thing we did:

- Have a small kit that you can find at all times that has paper cups, plates, forks, paper towels, Windex, Mr.Clean, rags, TOILET PAPER, masking tape, mulit head screw drive, hammer, UTILITY KNIVES (3+), Sharpie, note pad, garbage bags, twine/string (for the cardboard recycling) a few plastic baggies and a card with your new address and phone number. We kept all of this in a bucket along with a broom. This travelled with me in the car, because it was the last thing that I needed in the old place and the first thing we needed in the new place.
posted by saradarlin at 1:57 PM on June 12, 2009 [10 favorites]

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