Distressed Sales - Acceptance to Closing
If you have been waiting (maybe for months in the case of a short sale) to get an offer accepted, it will probably come as a surprise to you how quickly you are required to act once the lender has made a decision to sell to you. Suddenly, the lender seems to be in a great hurry to get the deal over with!
You will probably be required to review and sign some additional documentation and disclosures and to return these within a day or two. If you delay getting these documents back to the seller's side they may threaten to move on to another buyer's offer.
They will also require your initial deposit to go into escrow very promptly if it isn't already in place. This can be a problem for overseas buyers in particular. It is quite likely that they will require a negotiable cashier's check for the deposit, which is fine for a US buyer, but almost impossible for anyone without a US bank account.
It is usually possible to negotiate with the seller's side to have the deposit wired directly into the escrow account if there is no realistic alternative, though. Credit card payments, personal checks, etc, will not be accepted.
As soon as your deposit is in place and you have returned all addenda and other documentation, the lender will sign the contract to make it legally binding on both sides. From this stage you will probably be required to close on the purchase quickly, typically within two to three weeks.
If you are financing the purchase, your lender will need a copy of the contract and addenda promptly, because getting your loan ready to close is likely to be the limiting factor in the closing process.
Between acceptance and closing you will have to arrange a home inspection and act on the inspection report. Typically you will be given seven days from the day the seller signs the contract to have the property inspected, plus maybe three days more in which to disapprove any inspection findings, provided this option is allowed in the wording of the contract.
Make sure that you read the addenda and disclosures thoroughly. Each lender has a different version of this documentation, some of which will supercede the conditions that were written into the original contract, and you need to know what you are committing to before you sign.