The Post Offer Timeline for Buyers

The other night, I was going over the process from offer to closing with one of my buyer clients in terms of the standard dates and typical timeline, and as I was doing so, I realized that I hadn’t put this pertinent information in a document and go-to place for easy access.  Although we as Realtors know the standard timeline by heart, this can often be a new process for buyers – one that they might not have gone through in years.  And so I hope that putting all of this in writing will help my buyer clients as well as other buyers in need.

As you may know, when you put in an offer on a property, you commit to a variety of dates to get you from the accepted offer to the closing.  Here is a standard timeline and the events to which they are attached:

  • Inspection contingency (including pest and radon inspections) –  7-10 days from accepted offer. This part of the process actually has two dates.  The first is the date within which you as the buyer must have the inspection, and this is usually within 7 days of the accepted offer.  The second is the date within which you need to come back to the seller with any inspection issues to be addressed, and this is usually within 10 days of the accepted offer.  So let’s say, the seller has just accepted your offer today on Friday, May 12.   This means that you would have the inspection by Friday, May 19 and get back to the seller with any issues by Monday, May 22.  And more times than not, this will result in a back and forth – a.k.a. another negotiation – between you and the seller concerning the inspection issues.

  • On another note, during the days from the accepted offer through the inspection contingency, you also need to do two other things.  First, you need to talk to a few mortgage brokers about getting the best rate possible.  The mortgage commitment date is coming soon (see below), and so you need to start working on securing your options for getting a loan. Second, you need to hire an attorney.  Then once the inspection issues are resolved, your attorney and the seller’s attorney will work together to develop the Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S), which is our next date/event.

  • Purchase & Sale Agreement – usually 2 weeks from accepted offer. So using our example above, the P&S would be signed on Friday, May 26.  This is also when you would put down the remaining 5% of the deposit (a deposit of $1,000 was put down at the time of the offer).  And once the P&S has been signed, you would formally apply for a mortgage if you haven’t done so already thus fulfilling the mortgage application date, which is part of the mortgage contingency. 

  • Mortgage contingency/commitment – usually 3-4 weeks after the signing of the P&S (or 5-6 weeks from accepted offer). Most buyers want the date of the mortgage contingency/commitment to be four weeks after the signing of the P&S (or Friday, June 23 in this example) to have more time to make sure all of the mortgage paperwork is complete.  And most sellers want the date to be three weeks after the signing of the P&S (or Friday, June 16) because it lessens the time that their house has been red flagged with an accepted offer and basically not shown by the brokerage community, which is generally what happens.  So if the deal falls through because you can’t get a mortgage, the seller has only lost five weeks of active market time instead of six.

  • Closing – usually 60 days from accepted offer. And so the closing in this case would be Wednesday, July 12 (or thereabouts).  The theory behind this is that you can lock in a mortgage rate in 60 days, and it generally provides adequate time for the lender to provide the loan to the buyer and the seller to vacate the property.

I think that’s about it from a timeline perspective.  I hope this information helps, but keep in mind that the time frame from an accepted offer to closing can vary immensely based on the particular circumstances of the buyer and the seller.  Closings can happen within 30 days and can also take four to six months.  I’m hoping that laying out the typical timeline will give you a guideline from which to start to formulate a plan of action that works for you…. Good luck!

What are your thoughts on the subject? Did you experience a similar timeline when you were buying a home? Were there any surprises on the timing that you didn’t expect? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (, 781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.