Understanding The Residential Real Estate Buying Process in Lower Fairfield County, Connecticut

Buying Residential Real Estate in Lower Fairfield County may be different than what you’re used to. Every place has it’s own way of buying and selling real estate. In states like Arizona, Idaho and Montana a home transfers from seller to buyer with the help of a third party Escrow and/or Title Company. In states like (ours) Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and New York a home typically transfers and is closed by the Seller’s & Buyer’s attorneys. As if this wasn’t confusing enough when moving cross country or over state lines, different counties in a particular state may have different closing practices as well. This is the case in our state. So here’s an overview or a rundown of what you, the Buyer, can expect when purchasing a home here in lower Fairfield County, CT. *


The Buying Process in Lower Fairfield County CT

Step 1: Let’s Go Shopping!

I take my Buyer clients out specifically targeting those “must-have” or “wish list” items that we have identified in advance are important to them. This process can last 2 hours or 2 years depending on the level of urgency, inventory and speed of the market.


Step 2: Like a Home? Let’s Run the Comps.

As a Buyer’s Agent, it is my goal to get my client the Best House at the Best Price. I comb through the statistical data and then together we talk through the pluses and minuses that the comps have in comparison to the home that they have interest in potentially purchasing.


Step 3: Putting in an “Offer to Purchase” and Establishing Terms of Sale.

In Lower Fairfield County, an “Offer to Purchase” is submitted by the Buyer’s Agent on the behalf of the Buyer to the Seller’s Agent/Seller. On this form the purchase price, terms of sale and contingencies are outlined.

Common Terms of Sale include: closing date, contract date, deposit amount(s), inclusions, exclusions, etc.

Common Contingencies include: property inspection, mortgage contingency, Hubbard Clause (definition: buyer must sell their current home before closing on the home for which they are submitting an offer).

Along with the “Offer to Purchase”, it is customary for the Buyer to submit a mortgage pre-approval letter or proof of funds and a copy of a deposit check (typically 1% of offered purchase price).


Step 4: Negotiating & Getting the House!

The Seller’s Agent/ Seller will review the offer and (fingers crossed) accept or counter the offer perhaps with a different price or terms (or both). The Buyer’s Agent/Buyer responds, if they choose, and agrees to the Seller’s proposal or submits another offer. Negotiations can take no time at all or drag on and on depending on many variables. A happy ending to the negotiation is a meeting of minds on price, terms & contingencies!


Step 5: The “Binder” Stage

Once Buyer & Seller have agreement on price, terms and contingencies the house is now “Bindered” and the status is changed on MLS to “SHOW”. Typically the Buyer has put down a 1% deposit held in their attorney’s escrow account. In this stage, the home is still being actively marketed and shown to other buyers. Should another buyer submit an offer, the seller can negotiate with them, but they would become the “back-up offer” and cannot be formally accepted. As the Buyer with the accepted offer, you are protected by the Binder to perform your due diligence including the building inspection and carry out any other agreed to terms. After a building inspection, often there is need for additional negotiation should something not be working as intended or as it was represented. The Buyer can ask for a credit at closing to cover the cost of replacement or can ask the Seller to fix/replace something prior to the closing. Should Buyer and Seller agree on these items, the deal moves forward to the next phase.


Step 6: The “Contract” Stage

The Seller’s Attorney writes up the “Contract of Sale” outlined in the Binder and any additional changes agreed to post-inspection. He/she sends the Contract to the Buyer’s Attorney. The Buyer’s Attorney reviews the contract with the Buyer, makes changes and provides additional language if necessary. Typically when the Buyer signs the contract an additional deposit is required. The signed Contract, Binder deposit and Contract deposit are forwarded to the Seller’s Attorney’s Escrow account in anticipation of closing. Seller then signs the Contract. The home is now “Contracted” and the MLS status changes to “DEPOSIT”. Seller no longer is showing the home or actively marketing it as available.


Step 7: Outstanding Contingencies

Although contracts are signed, the Buyer may still have outstanding contingencies such as a mortgage contingency. Should the Buyer not be able to obtain his/her mortgage by the agreed to date in the contract, a Buyer can ask for an extension or ask that deposit funds be returned and the sale is off (no Buyer penalty). The house goes back on the market.

But WE want the happy version of the story – Buyer gets his/her mortgage and waives all additional contingencies. The House is Almost Yours!


Step 8: The Walk-Through

The final “Walk-Through” the home is conducted by the Buyer with me, the Buyer’s Agent. We check to make sure all the Seller’s furniture and personal items were removed and what was supposed to stay remains in the home. Yes, sometimes hasty movers remove washing machines when they are supposed to be left for the Buyer. If this were the case, I, the Buyer’s Agent, immediately calls the Seller’s Agent/Seller to rectify the mistake. If the washing machine cannot be returned, a credit may be given by the Seller to the Buyer to cover the cost of a new washing machine. If an appliance is not working or there is damage to the home in some way, this too is handled in a similar manner. If significant damage has occurred or Seller and Buyer cannot agree on a fix/credit amount, the closing can be delayed or the deal can fall apart. Some penalty fees may be incurred.


Step 9: Closing

Ok, let’s imagine that the Walk-Through went great – no issues! The Buyer meets his/her Attorney to sign the necessary papers (may include bank paperwork as well). Some Attorneys will allow the paperwork to be signed in advance, by mail or electronically. The Seller meets with his/her Attorney to sign their paperwork.

The two Attorneys then meet to conduct the formal closing.


Step 10: Celebrate & Move In!

CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT! You have keys in hand and THE HOUSE IS YOURS!! Get ready to move on in!


*DISCLAIMER: Every transaction is unique. Buyers should always seek guidance from an attorney and mortgage lender


For additional information or questions, please contact me, Jaclyn Picarillo, Realtor, 203-981-5012