Q. I just signed a contract to buy a house or condominium. What do I do now?

A. Ask your real estate agent to e-mail or fax the signed contract to our office for review. Our fax number is 708-331-8018. Contracts can be e-mailed to caweinum@weinumlaw.com. Most contracts provide a limited period for attorney review. The attorney review period starts when the seller signs the contract and both buyer and seller have agreed on the terms. Let our office know immediately if you must close by a certain date if your home is currently for sale or if you already have signed a contract to sell. Closing dates listed in the contract often change, so it is best to be as flexible as possible.

Most contracts allow the buyer a limited period to have the home professionally inspected. Schedule the inspection immediately after the seller accepts your offer. We recommend that you accompany the inspector. Ask questions and familiarize yourself with the property. Request that the inspector forwards a copy of the report to our office. All repair requests must be made within the inspection contingency period, so be sure to contact our office if the inspector points out problems that you want the seller to repair.

Unless you are paying cash, apply for your mortgage immediately and promptly provide all required information to your loan processor. Notify our office of the lender’s name, the amount of your loan, and the name and contact information for the representative processing your application. If you locked in your interest rate when you applied for the loan, ask when the lock expires. If you close after the lock expires, your lender doesn’t have to offer you the rate you
applied for.

Most contracts allow you time to obtain financing. If you cannot obtain a loan, most contracts allow for your earnest money to be refunded as long as you notify the seller before the finance contingency deadline. Carefully note this deadline in your real estate contract. If the deadline is approaching and your lender has not given you a written mortgage commitment, contact our office so that we can request an extension of the finance contingency. If the finance contingency deadline expires and you cannot get a loan, you may forfeit your earnest money.

You are not approved for your loan until you receive a written mortgage commitment. Preapprovals do not count. Phone calls do not count. You do not have a loan until you receive a written mortgage commitment that specifies the loan amount and the address of the property you are buying. If you do receive a written mortgage commitment, notify our office immediately and provide us with a copy. Make sure that you comply with any conditions listed on the commitment.

Apply for homeowners insurance well before closing. If you are buying a house, your lender will require that you pay the premium for the coming year before the closing.

You have a right to walk through the property before closing. We highly recommend that you do so. This usually takes place 24- 48 hours before closing. The seller must deliver the house to you in the same condition, it was in when you signed the contract. Make sure the appliances still work, the toilets still flush and the lights still come on. If the house has seasonal equipment such as storm doors or screens, make sure you know where it is. If the house is not cleared of everything other than the appliances and fixtures listed in the contract, notify our office before the closing. This is your last opportunity to raise any issues about the condition of your new home. If you find something wrong after closing, it will normally become your responsibility, not the sellers.

Contact our office 24 hours prior to closing to find out how the final amount you must bring. If you are married, both husband and wife should attend the closing, even if only one spouse is taking out the mortgage. Lenders often require that both spouses sign several loan documents even if the loan is in only one spouse's name. Everyone attending the closing must have a driver’s license or other government-issued identification with a photograph.

If you are receiving possession at closing, make sure you have (or know where to find) all the door keys, mailbox keys, garage door openers, security system codes, storage locker keys, etc. before leaving the closing table. If you are receiving possession after closing, make sure you have (or know where to find) all the door keys, mailbox keys, garage door openers, security system codes, storage locker keys, etc. before authorizing the release of the possession escrow.