You’ve accepted an offer on your home, and you might be wondering what’s next?
Offers to purchase can be either conditional or unconditional.
If you have accepted an unconditional offer, that is fantastic! You now have a legally binding firm sale and your Real Estate Agent will be excited to put the SOLD sign up! Your offer documents will be forwarded to your Lawyers Office, and in conjunction with the Buyers Lawyer they will begin the process of transferring your property to the Buyer for closing. If there is a lockbox on the home it generally stays in place until the day prior to your closing, when usually the Buyer and their Agent will do a final walk through to ensure that the home is in good order.
A good practice is to be fully packed and have everything in pristine order for closing. Sometimes closing dates overlap, with the Buyer moving in on the same day that you take possession of your new home. Overlapped closing dates can be tricky, but best practices dictate that you should have everything loaded and ready to go first thing in the morning.
Should you have accepted a conditional offer- there is a bit more to the process before that sold sign can go up. General conditions might include financing, insurance or a home inspection and maybe even the sale of the Buyers Property. Conditional offers are just that- conditional. If the Buyer is unable to meet their conditions before the condition due date, the home goes back on the market. A general rule of thumb is that while a conditional offer is in place, a home is still marketed and Buyers may still want to view it in the event that the conditional offer does not firm up.
On or before the condition deadline, the Buyer has 3 options- they can submit a Notice of Fulfillment of Conditions thereby firming their purchase (and a SOLD sign can go up), they can submit a Waiver (meaning they opted to not fulfill their conditions but are still moving forward with the purchase- the SOLD sign can go up) or, they can submit a Mutual Release, meaning that their conditions were not met, and the home will have to go back on the market.
So- who keeps the deposit should the deal fall apart in the conditional period? Sorry Sellers- the Deposit is returned in full to the Buyers.
Once an Offer to Purchase is ‘firm’ and all conditions have been met or waived, the Buyers are in a legally binding position to close the sale on the closing date. Sometimes things happen and deals do not close, although not often. In a situation as such, the Buyer or sometimes the Seller is in breech of their contract and the Lawyers will work together to determine the best path forward. If a Mutual Release is signed by both parties, they are released from their obligation. If not, legal proceedings will commence to sort out liabilities and obligations. This is NEVER a good situation and should be avoided at all costs. Always take Notice of Fulfillment and Waiver documents seriously- they are essentially thought of as ‘the point of no return’.
In summary, the selling process is generally complete once the offer is firm and to the Lawyers for closing, however, it’s always good to keep in mind that things happen and there is the odd time that deals do not close as planned.