There are endless books and articles about buying a home: What to do and what not to do. Buying a home for dummies (I fall into that category). When to buy a home and when not to. Is buying a home a good investment or a bad investment. And on and on and it goes. But let's say you've read all of those articles and books. And let's say you've bought that house. Now it's closing time -- when is the deal truly done? Whether it is last minute calls to the bank or a 24-hour window from the mortgage company to get some last minute paperwork together, there can be a lot of before the buzzer tasks and surprises that take place through no fault of the actual buyer (you) in this situation.
Is anything a done deal until the keys are in your hand?
Yes and No.
1. Be prepared
That means keeping track of every piece of paper you can possibly imagine (that means the divorce decree from your quickie wedding in Vegas ten years ago). Keep copies wherever you go because what if you get the call at work? Recently, a friend was given 24 hours to get a piece of paper that the mortgage company needed (and it was the mortgage company's mistake for missing it in the first place). But if my friend couldn't get that piece of paper? Guess who is up a creek? One hint: Not the mortgage company.
2. Expect the unexpected
Another friend found the perfect townhouse in the city (for real, it's great!). Everything was going smoothly. The real estate agent was able to get it for way under asking and then a few weeks later it was appraised – for $3,000 less than he bought if for. First, thank goodness for the real estate agent in the first place. Secondly, who could have expected that? I was shocked even knowing the real estate market in the city.
3. Have professionals in your corner
What did my friend do when it was appraised for lower than the price he was paying? He got a real estate lawyer involved (I don't know – he knows people). Buying a home is a real ADULT (all caps, full stop) thing to do and you need adults in the room to help. And there is not shame in your game when it comes to that.
There is a lot that can go wrong when moving and closing on a house. I guess that's why moving is considered just as stressful as a death or a divorce. There are things that are in your control (and be sure to take control of those things) and things out of it. Hopefully, fingers crossed, everything works out in the end.