Real Estate FAQ

Typical Buyer's Step-by-Step Progression

  1. Buyer makes written offer to purchase for seller’s consideration
  2. Terms are negotiated until seller accepts in writing.  You are now under contract!
  3. Due Diligence Fee is paid by Buyer to Seller for an inspection period
  4. Buyer's earnest money (good-faith) deposit is placed in the listing agent’s trust account
  5. Lender orders appraisal (buyer might order this if it is a cash purchase)
  6. Lender orders a title search – this is a request to our office to begin title search and review
  7. Inspections are ordered (we recommend buyer obtain all inspections available to them: home, termite, radon, HVAC, etc.)
  8. After inspection reports are reviewed, any repair issues are negotiated with the seller before the expiration of due diligence period
  9. Land survey is ordered to be reviewed as part of title search
  10. Buyer applies for hazard insurance and the information goes to the lender and closing attorney
  11. Near the closing date, buyer arranges for utilities to be switched over
  12. Seller signs deed and other seller documents prepared by closing attorney
  13. Closing and settlement takes place at the office of the buyer's attorney.
  14. Buyer gives attorney certified funds to pay for closing and signs loan papers and other required documents
  15. Attorney records new deed at the courthouse and disburses funds to all parties
  16. Attorney certifies the final opinion of title to the buyer’s title insurer so that the policy of title insurance can be issued to buyer and lender.

Other Common Questions


How Do the New Regulations Implemented by the CFPB Affect My Home Purchase?

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created as an advocate for consumers that require a loan for purchases such as a buying a home, a car or paying for a college education.  The Bureau's intent is to help place regulate and simplify the process of financing in an effort to mitigate the confusion often associated with taking out a large loan.

I am expecting proceeds after closing. May I have those proceeds wired to my bank?

Yes. Our fee to wire the funds to your account is $25.00 and can be deducted from your proceeds. You will need to provide our office with your written and signed wiring instructions prior to or at closing.

I am married, but my house is in my name only, and my spouse will not be a co-borrower on the mortgage. Does my spouse have to come to the closing?

Yes. This situation is really the same as the one in the question just above. Even if your spouse does not co-own the property with you, he or she must also sign the mortgage (which is almost always called a "deed of trust" in North Carolina). When you get a mortgage loan, you convey to your lender a property interest in your house, and your spouse's potential property rights need to also be subject to the mortgage.

Of course, if you are buying real property in your name only, for cash, that is, you are not getting a mortgage loan, your spouse is not needed at the closing.

I am selling my property and your office is handling the drafting of the closing documents on my behalf. May I sign the document prior to the scheduled closing date?

Yes.  The documents that need to be signed can be emailed to you prior to closing. Once you execute those documents (in front of a notary), you may return them to our office prior to closing. In the event you want to come in to our office and sign the documents prior to closing, there will be a $25.00 early signing accommodation fee. This is charged because of the time associated with reviewing and explaining the documents at a time other than the scheduled closing time.

I want to terminate my contract, what should I do?

You should contact your agent and let them know that you would like to terminate the contract. If there is a dispute with regard to the release of the earnest money or who is entitled to it, the agent by law may not disburse the money to anyone but the clerk of court, and the parties will be forced to plead their case, so to speak, in front of a judge or magistrate, who will then decide how the earnest money is to be distributed. A termination of contract should be executed so that the buyer and seller can move on. In the event the parties are able to negotiate the terms of the release of the earnest money, a termination of contract setting forth those terms should be executed by the parties and the disbursement should be made by the agent according to those terms.

I'm buying/selling a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) home. What do I need to know?

Although we have seen successful examples of For Sale by Owner transactions, the reality is that Real Estate is a very broad concept that touches legal, tax, investment, finance, retirement, sales, psychology, design, home improvement and more. The decision to proceed without the existence of a licensed professional is one that should not be taken lightly and should be given objective consideration. If you decide to sell or purchase a home "by owner" we must most importantly make you aware that our firm, if retained as your closing agent, will not perform the same duties as a real estate agent. Our duties as your closing agent are outlined in our engagement letter which can be found on our "Buyer" page. If you feel that you require additional guidance and/or representation please contact our office to schedule an appointment with our office. These appointments are billed separately from the closing fee and will be invoiced hourly.

My spouse has my Power of Attorney. Can she sign for me at the closing so I won't have to attend?

Possibly. You need to inform your lender and the closing attorney that you want to do this, because he or she will need to see the Power of Attorney beforehand to see if it is valid for your real estate closing. Also, the attorney will need time to prepare additional documents in this situation, and the original Power of Attorney will have to be recorded.

Please note also that a Power of Attorney, though perfectly valid, might have been written to be used only for an earlier, specific closing or transaction. Such Powers of Attorney, containing a limitation to specific property, a specific mortgage loan or lender, or an expiration date, are very common. In this case you will need to sign a new Power of Attorney.

If you are a borrower on the mortgage, your lender also has to approve your non-attendance at the closing through the Power of Attorney; many lenders will require you to attend anyway (if you want the loan). Most lenders that allow Powers of Attorney, require that they be specific for the transaction, as described above. 

Should I make my next payment to my mortgage company?

You should discuss this with your lender, broker or agent, but generally if, as a result of the sale or refinance, your old loan will be paid off by the 15th of the month, then you will not need to make that payment for that month. This is because typically no late charges accrue until after the 15th.

Should we consider buying a home in foreclosure?

Purchasing a home in foreclosure often appears to be a good value, but factors outside of the price need to be considered:

  • The purchase of a foreclosure often is a "cash only" sale.
  • Can you view the actual condition of the home inside and out before placing a bid? The home may be in need of extensive repairs driving up the actual cost of the home.
  • Are there liens for taxes or mechanics liens that the winning bidder will be responsible for?
  • Is there a redemption period for the previous owners? If so, how long do they have the ability to buy the house back before you can move in?

The house I am selling is in my name only. Does my spouse have to attend the closing?

Yes, your spouse must also sign the deed. This is because spouses have potential property rights in any real property their spouse owns, and they must release those rights if the property is conveyed. This is true even if you, the owning spouse, got the property before you were married, or inherited the property from your family, or you have a prenuptial agreement.