real estate

4 tips for closing a home sale quickly

3. Hire an experienced appraiser

After the buyer and seller enter into a contract -- but before ownership changes hands -- the buyer may order an appraisal for the property, especially if he or she needs a mortgage, Holmes says.

Strict valuation rules following the housing market collapse have caused many appraisers to calculate home values lower than the buyer and seller expected, she says. Appraised amounts less than the contracted price can create problems that delay or eventually terminate the transaction.

"Most people know that in order to get a mortgage, the borrower has to qualify, but we forget that the property has to 'qualify,' too," Holmes says. "The appraisal is a way to know whether or not the home (along with the buyer's down payment) is worth the asking amount."

If the appraisal comes back lower than the agreed-upon price, the lender has to look at the appraisal and figure out why, she says. It could mean that the value of the home has dropped significantly.

However, all hope is not lost. A low appraisal also may occur if the appraiser is not familiar with the community, and as a result, does not make accurate value comparisons with similar homes in the area, Holmes says. To increase the odds of getting an accurate report, she advises hiring an experienced appraiser who is familiar with the neighborhood.

4. Wait before making big-ticket purchases

A few days before any scheduled closing, mortgage lenders are likely to recheck the information borrowers provided to qualify for the home loan. Borrowers who have made a recent expensive purchase could alter their financial picture to such a degree that it puts the loan in jeopardy, Holmes says.

"If you buy an automobile while you're under contract to purchase a house, you might reduce your cash reserves too much. If the vehicle is financed, you could increase your debt ratio to the point where you no longer qualify for the mortgage," she says.

This could cause a delay in the closing while the borrower tries to come up with extra funds or searches for another mortgage.

"If you need to buy a car, furniture or some other large purchase, wait until after the closing," Holmes says.

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