Closing Time

Helpful tips for when your home offer is accepted

Buying a home is an important milestone in a person’s life. When an offer has been accepted, it can result in a lot of emotions, includuing both excitement and anxiety. It can be hard to keep track of everything that needs to be done. But there are some helpful tips to remember when closing.

One fairly obvious point is setting up utilities. Sarah Martzolf, a realtor with the Martzolf Group and McEnery Residential, said this can usually be scheduled before the closing.

“In the summer, it’s crucial [to set up utilities] to make sure you keep A/C on in addition to having lights and refrigerators running for move-in,” Martzolf said. 

Power transfers can often be done online. Gas service may require an in-person appointment. Water usually needs to be done in person and requires proof of homeownership. Martzolf said the water transfer can be tricky if closing is done on a Friday afternoon, so she often asks sellers to keep the water on through the weekend in those instances. 

“Utilities vary parish to parish so ask your title company if they are able to help,” Martzolf said. 

It’s also useful to remember that the house will never be perfect if you are moving into an existing home. It’s common for new buyers to want to do touch-ups on the paint. If you want to keep the existing colors, it is best to ask the sellers early on what the specific colors are.

“If you wait until the closing table, they may have packed up that information and it may be hard to get it at the last minute,” Martzolf said.

Martzolf added that houses sometimes look more worn once the furniture has been removed and the rooms are empty. She recommends buyers budget for paint when moving into a new house so they are not surprised and disappointed during the walk-through. 

“Additionally, new paint cleans the surface, so sometimes fresh paint is the easiest and most affordable way to freshen and clean up a space,” Martzolf said.

While the nature of the term “closing costs” makes people think of something you do at the very end of a process, Celeste Marshall, a realtor with Réve Realtors, said prospective homeowners should have their lender run all the numbers for closing costs before they even start looking at houses.

“It is one thing to get approved for a $500K home, but you also want to find out how much cash you need to bring to closing,” Marshall said. “Aside from your down payment, you may need around one year to a year and a half of property taxes and insurance for your mortgage’s escrow.”

Marshall also recommends shopping around for lenders and title companies. Do not assume one size fits all.

“Both lenders and title companies can be competitive if they know someone else will beat their price,” Marshall said.

Another aspect of buying a new home that feels like it should come at the end but should actually be done earlier is researching movers. Martzolf suggests calling moving companies as soon as you are under contract for estimates and committing to one once inspections are complete.

“Movers have been hard to come by recently and many have been unavailable or expensive,”  Martzolf said. “If you wait until the week before the closing, you could be out of luck.”

Communicating with movers is also important. Closing dates can be moved back due to lending issues. If that happens, the buyer likely will not be able to move anything into the new home until the sale is official. This is because insurance is not in place yet.

“Sellers do not want to be liable for the new buyer’s things or anyone who may get hurt in the process,” Martzolf said.  

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