Why going under contract on your home is NOT the time to celebrate

Homeowner Highlights

Learn why going under contract is not the time to celebrate. And how doing a specific list of things during this phase of the selling process will make or break your San Diego home sale 

Don’t get too excited once the contract is signed. There is still much to do to get to the finish line. In this article,

In a hot seller’s market, many people don’t realize there is a lot to selling a home. Much more than taking a few photos, throwing it on the MLS and waiting for settlement day.

This is especially true if you want the very most money for your home.

This is why I created my series:

Get the Most for Your Home, Even In a Hot Seller’s Market

I want to help you, and anyone you know, maximize the profits from your biggest investment and not get “caught up in what other people are doing.”

This is a must-read series, even if you aren’t selling a home anytime soon. 

In this article in my series, you’ll learn why going under contract is NOT the time to celebrate the sale of your home.  There is so much that needs to happen between now and settlement. And it’s crucial that it is handled correctly.  Once settlement occurs, THEN we can start throwing the confetti!

What needs to get done before Settlement

Think of me as the project manager from the time you go under contract through to settlement.   My job is to work with all parties to make sure everyone does what they are supposed to do.  So that we get to the settlement on time and with the least amount of stress and hassles (for you) as possible.

I will work with you, the buyer’s agent, the buyer’s lender, the title company and any other vendors we need to involve during this phase of the selling process. 

I assign tasks, continue to negotiate terms on your behalf and make sure deadlines are met by everyone involved, and then, of course, keep you up-to-date on the progress along the way. 

My most important job is to make sure the terms you agreed to when you signed the contract are carried out correctly and on time. 

The under contract phase feels a little “quiet.”  There are more parties involved than before we went under contract.   I will make this phase less mysterious for you and let you know who is doing what when every few days. 

Once You Are Under Contract:

What happens behind the scenes from going under contract to settlement:

Opening Escrow and Gathering Information

We will work with the selected escrow company to “Open Escrow”. The escrow company will set up a dedicated account where all of the money related to the transaction is deposited and distributed. They also set up a timeline of events in order to arrive at settlement on the agreed to date. This involves coordinating with the buyer, the seller, title, and the buyer’s lender if applicable.

Estimated net sheet  –

We will talk about the numbers and what to expect.  For example, did you know the amount your mortgage says is your balance is NOT the amount of your mortgage payoff. So we’ll be discussing what to expect there. 

Track important dates

Once we go under contract I work with the escrow company to plot all the important dates and share that with you.  Depending on the terms you agreed to in the contract, this could be anything. From contingencies to document review periods, to when the appraiser is coming to when the home inspection is happening. 
We both need know these crucial deadlines so we can make sure everything is done on time and keep all other parties on time too. 


Next, I introduce myself and all the other parties involved in the process to each other and make sure they have everything they need, like a copy of the contract, to start their processing of the file.  For example, I make sure the escrow company has a copy of the contract and your contact information so they can start working with you on things like the pay-off statement. 
I introduce myself to the buyer’s lender and make sure he or she has what they need from our side to start the loan processing.  And, I make sure the lender and escrow company have each other’s contact information since they will need to work closely together throughout the process

Order condo or HOA docs, if necessary – 

If you are purchasing a condo or any property with a homeowners association, I’ll get the condo docs and/or HOA docs ordered on a “rush” so we can get those to the buyer as quickly as possible and

Earnest Money Deposit

As discussed in the previous article, depending on the contract terms you agreed to, you don’t always get this money back.  So, we’ll review again when the buyer can void and get their deposit back and when you are in the clear to receive their deposit if something changes.  Not only that, but it needs to be deposited by a certain date and I follow up to make sure that happens.

The Inspection

  • Inspection Process – There are three parts to the inspection that we’ll discuss. Prepping for it, what happens during the inspection and what happens after the inspection. Here’s a quick overview:
  • Prepping: You want your home to look the same way it did when the buyers first fell in love with it.  So, for this stage, you’ll want to still have it clean, clutter-free and looking its best. 
  • During the inspection:  Here’s a checklist of what the inspector will be looking at during the inspection (You’ll want to make sure everything on this list is accessible and in good working order so your home is presented to both the inspector and the buyer in the best possible light):

After the Inspection:

Once the inspection is completed, the ball is in the buyer’s court.  Depending on now the inspection portion of the contract was initially negotiated and agreed upon by both you and the buyers, the buyers may send a list of requests for repairs, they may void the contract entirely (very rare) or they will move forward by removing the contingency.

Depending on how they move forward after their inspection, we’ll have a game plan. We’ll either review the list of requests and negotiate what you will and won’t do by settlement, move forward without having to do a thing, or, in the rare instance where they void entirely, we’ll discuss when and how to put your home back on the market for a buyer who will love it.

  • Lockbox removal – Now that the inspection is over, I take off the lockbox.  We don’t want anyone accessing your home—the buyer, appraisers, the buyer’s agent, etc, even if it’s vacant, without me present between now and settlement.
  • Track the buyer’s loan – I touch base with the buyer’s lender at very specific times during the under contract period to track the loan I want to make sure everything is going according to plan: that financing and appraisal contingency dates are being met, that the buyers have received their closing disclosure in the correct amount of time and that the title company has what they need from the lender to close on time on the agreed upon settlement day in the contract.


Create an appraisal package and meet the appraiser – This is SO important.   Homes are oftentimes selling for more than recent sales (the comps) would support.  I want to make a strong case for the price that you and the buyer have agreed on.  So, I put together a package of material that supports your agreed upon price

This package includes

  • Floorpans
  • Confirmed square footage
  • Recent sales that support our price
  • A list of updates and improvements you’ve made 
  • Summary of offers we had and why we got the price we did

I will personally meet the appraiser and review what we feel is important for them to know for the appraisal.

Vendor List

You may need need suggestions for any contractors. Things like moving companies, cleaners, any repairs. I will supply you a list of recommended vendors I’ve used to make your move easier on you.

Final Steps

Schedule De-Staging

I work with the stager to make sure that you aren’t charged for extra staging. And ensure the staging will be removed before the buyer’s walk-through.

Sign removal – 

I call the sign company and get the order placed to remove the for sale sign. 

Coordinate the final walk-through

I coordinate the final walk-through with the buyers.  Typically the buyer’s final walk-through happens right before settlement.  The point of the final walk-through is to make sure your home is ready for the buyers to take ownership. Also  to confirm that any home inspection repair items that were agreed to have been completed.

Condition of home at settlement

The contract calls for your home to be in “broom swept” condition with all your belongings out.  A good rule of thumb is to leave this home in the same condition you’d like the next home to be left for you.

Final To-Dos

A few days before settlement, you’ll receive a final list of to-dos from me.  It will serve as a reminder about when and how to do things.  Like turn off your utilities, homeowners insurance.  Also gather things like keys, garage clickers, storage keys, parking permits and alarm codes. These are all the “tiny” things the buyers need. I will remind you, so you don’t have to think about it.

Review your final documents and numbers with you prior to settlement

A few days before settlement, I review the  with you so settlement is a breeze and you understand everything you are signing.

Settlement Day Logistics – 

I make sure you know what to expect on settlement day.  We will coordinate for you to sign prior to settlement day.  We will notify you when the new deed has recorded.

Next Day Check In – 

I’ll touch base with you after settlement. I want to make sure you’ve received your funds in full. You may also have some final questions about your sale.

After the Close

Time to Celebrate! Now’s the time to throw the confetti and finally celebrate.  You’re officially DONE! 

There’s a lot to do once you are under contract to ensure everything goes smoothly. But, don’t worry, I’ll be with you every step of the way.  Being your project manager and giving you updates weekly and at every important milestone.   I love having a plan so everything goes like clockwork. But I’ve also got a plan B AND C.  So no matter what happens, we won’t loose anytime getting you to settlement on time.

Thinking about selling?

Want to know how to get the very most for it?  Or do you just want to hand over the keys and let me handle it all?  I got you.  First, we need to have a conversation about why are selling, where you are headed and when you want to be there.  You can schedule that with me here .

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