What Happens After You Make an Offer on a House: Each Step Explained

When you walk into the house of your dreams, it should feel comfortable and peaceful. It should feel like home.

We want every step of the home-buying process to feel like that — intuitive. After all, so many people do it; In 2021 alone, 6.1 million home transactions occurred. Yet the fact remains: It’s a burdensome process that so frequently goes unexplained until you’re in the middle of it.

Once the offer on your dream home has been accepted, you might think the hard work is done. But that’s just when the hard work begins.

What’s next? We’re here to give you a primer before you find yourself immersed in a world you don’t understand.

How Long Does it Take to Close on a House?

The time it takes from when you make an offer and close on the home can vary quite a bit depending on where you live and the seller you’re working with. Here’s a typical timeline.

Sellers Take up to Three Days to Respond to Your Offer

“Buyers typically make an offer to the seller through a real estate agent in a document called a letter of intent,” said real estate attorney Rajeh A. Saadeh“Most offers have an expiration date within the letter, but either way, buyers usually receive responses from sellers within one to three days.”

Since responding quickly is seen as a common courtesy, you should expect to hear back from your seller (or their agent) with an acceptance, counter-offer, or rejection by the third day. There are some situations in which a seller may take longer to respond, which we’ll explain.

What Happens After Your Offer Is Accepted?

Once your offer is accepted, you’ll typically have three days to make what’s called an earnest money depositwhich acts as proof to the seller of your intent to buy the home. This usually ranges from 1-3% of the sales price but can go up to as much as 10% in a competitive market or a bidding war. The money is generally applied to the total down payment or closing costs.

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