Question #5

What happens after I sign the contract with my real estate agent?

If you are a seller:

You can ask your attorney to review any offer you receive prior to accepting it.  In the event you have already accepted the offer, it is extremely important to hire your real estate attorney at this time if you have not already done so.

Your contract should have an attorney review period and home inspection period built in, and the length of time they cover varies from contract to contract.  During these periods you will likely receive a letter from your buyer’s attorney requesting both modifications to your existing contract and possible requests for repairs or credits based on the home inspection they may perform.

Your attorney, along with your real estate agent if you have one, will review any such letter with you and help you determine what is important and what is not, and when you are ready, your attorney will convey your response about what you are and are not willing to do.

The week or two following acceptance of a contract can be the most critical period in the deal and it is important that you have competent help available to you to answer your questions and guide you through the process.  Hire an experienced attorney as early in the process as possible.

In fact, you should hire your attorney as soon as you put your home on the market and the great thing about working with us is that it won’t cost you anything extra to retain us when you list your home.

If you are a buyer:

You can ask your attorney to review your offer before you submit it.  In the event you have already submitted an offer, and it has now been accepted, it is extremely important to hire your real estate attorney at this time if you have not already done so.

You should also consider hiring a home inspector to do a professional home inspection on your property, even if it is a condominium.  Your inspector can help you spot problem areas and code violations, helping you make an informed decision about the structure and interior of your potential new home.

Armed with that home inspection list, you should consult with your attorney for next steps.  Your attorney will review your contract and suggest modifications if necessary, and your attorney will ask you if you have any requests based on your home inspection.

These requests range from simple repairs to complex repairs.  Some buyers prefer credit to make the repairs themselves, or perhaps a purchase price reduction in lieu of repairs.  Based on your input, your attorney will then draft a letter encompassing these contractual modifications and home inspection requests and share it with your seller’s attorney.

A response from seller’s attorney typically follows, and your attorney will share that information with you and hopefully both you and the seller can agree and the transaction will move forward.  In the event an agreement cannot be reached, your attorney should be able to protect you in a way such that you can get your earnest money back should such a disagreement occur.

Remember though – time is of the essence.  The minute your seller signs your offer it becomes a contract and the clock begins to run.  If you wait too long, you could lose your earnest money or make other serious mistakes.

Hire an experienced attorney as early in the process as possible.  It can make a big difference for you.

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