• Kersten Bowman

The Home Buying Process at a Glance


Contracts, deposits, inspections, timelines...where do you even begin? Here is a brief overview of the process that I give to all of my client's upfront that are new to the market. Please keep in mind that numbers, rates, rules, and regulations change constantly. This post is subject to change.


Once a Buyer finds a house they want to call home they will execute a contract. It is important to note that a contract is not fully executed until both parties (Seller and Buyer) have signed the appropriate documents. Both parties must also receive a copy of the documents to begin the contract execution date and contract timeline.


Upon contract execution the Buyer will drop off an Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) to the title company or escrow agent within 3-5 days of contract execution, or the agreed upon timeline. Typically, it will be 1% of the purchase price, however it is negotiable between the Seller and Buyer. It is simply stating that the Buyer intends to follow the appropriate steps to purchase the property and ensures the Seller that they are removing the property from the market for good reason. Many people also refer to this deposit as "Good Faith Money" or "Escrow Funds".


A Buyer will have a period of days negotiated in the contract to get the property inspected. General Home Inspections are optional, but are always recommended and are paid outside of closing. They can range in price, but for the average 2500 square foot home they are usually $400-600. Other inspections that may take place during this time might include a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO), Mold, Lead Based Paint (LBP), or Roof Inspection to name a few.


A Buyer or Buyer's Lender will order an appraisal if the offer is contingent upon the market value of the property. If the appraisal comes back at or above the offer price that is great news, instant Buyer equity and the sale can move forward! If the appraisal comes back below the offer price three things may happen:

  1. Seller and Buyer agree to terminate the contract without penalties.

  2. Seller and Buyer agree that Seller will drop the price to appraisal value and the sale moves forward.

  3. Seller and Buyer agree that Buyer will bring cash to the closing for the difference in appraisal value and offer price. Or, this difference can be negotiated between the parties.

The title company will order a survey. If there is an existing survey then it can be used if no changes or alterations have been made to the footprint of the residence (this includes items such as pools, driveways, and boat docks). The title company will also be checking that the property has clear title (making sure there are no outstanding permits, tax bills, etc.) amongst a number of other things.


The process before a Buyer can move into a new home can take anywhere from 7-45 days on average depending on the financial situation of the Buyer. The above is a condensed version of the items that need to be completed prior to unlocking the door, but I hope it helps YOU know where to start.


Still have questions? Contact Kersten Bowman today!