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keys to the house buying your first home by Anh-Minh Le | 1 2 3
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When you submit an offer, you're usually asked to put "earnest money" into an escrow account. We were told that 3% of the purchase price is the norm, but I've had friends who put less than that. If your offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of the down payment; if your offer is rejected, the money is yours again.

closing the deal
So once your offer is accepted -- and hopefully it will be! -- there's more paperwork in store for you. Immediately go back to your lender and finalize your mortgage. It was at this point that our bank asked for bank statements, paycheck stubs, tax returns and the purchase contract. None of it was that difficult to get together. Once we had the necessary paperwork submitted, we could lock in our interest rate.

While the bank was processing our papers and taking care of the appraisal, we were busy with other tasks. Our work was not done yet!

In order to secure a home loan, we had to provide proof of homeowners' insurance. We went with the same office that had handled our renters' insurance. The only minor glitch was that we needed to prove that we were planning to replace the roof -- ASAP. As long as we could confirm that (by offering a copy of a deposit we had placed with a roofing company), the insurance was not a problem. (Yes, the insurance company did actually stop by our house later to check on whether or not we had a new roof.)

The onus was also on us to make an appointment with the escrow agent to finalize the deal. A few days before the closing date, our real estate agent met us at the escrow agent's office to help us through all of the paperwork. There was plenty of signing done, at the end of which the escrow office congratulated us with a gourmet gift basket. But we didn't walk out with our keys; apparently, the sale had to be recorded with the county before we could officially claim the house as ours.

From the day our offer was accepted to the day we got the keys, a full month went by. We then spent some time fixing up the house (a process that could make for an article in itself!) before we moved in. I used to think that being a homeowner would mean that we would suddenly feel burdened -- they don't call it the Golden Handcuffs for nothing. Fortunately, we've been surprised once again: there have been no doubts and no regrets.


Anh-Minh Le spends her days working for a hedge fund, and her nights writing, crafting, and catching up on Tivo'd shows. She has spent 98% of her life in the SF Bay Area -- and now that she has a house that really feels like a home, she has no intention of leaving. She is currently obsessed with landscaping her backyard.

check out these related articles: 
the incredibly true confessions of a first-time homeowner

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