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Congratulations, you are on your way to owning your very own home! Follow these suggestions (and your Realtor's advice) so that escrow and settlement with be as smooth as possible.
The lender that you select will ask for a down payment on the home you are purchasing. You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want depending on the type of financing you select. Keep in mind that making a larger down payment toward the total price of your home will shorten the amount of time that it takes for you to pay off your home. Making a larger down payment will also reduce your mortgage payments each month.
During this period of purchasing your home, you are going to need an escrow or settlement company to act as an independent third party so that you know when and who to give your money to get the deed to your new home. The escrow or settlement company will hold your deposit and coordinate much of the activity that goes on during the escrow period. This earnest money may also be held by an attorney or in the broker's trust account. Make sure that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover this check.
Your earnest money check will be cashed once your contract is ratified. Assuming the sale goes through, this money will be applied to the purchase price of the home. If for any reason the sale is not consummated, you may be entitled to receive all of your deposit back, less standard cancellation fees. In certain instances, the seller may be able to retain this money as liquidated damages. Prior to executing a purchase contract, it would be wise to speak with your counsel regarding whether or not it is your best interest to have a liquidated damages clause as part of the contract.
You've made it! Once the sale has closed, you're the proud owner of a new home. Congratulations!