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Overview of the Homebuying Process

By James C. “Beau” Brincefield, Jr.

Following this text is a flow chart that provides a graphic overview of the homebuying process from contract through, settlement.

In the boxes in the first and last columns are the typical parties and entities involved. The second column identifies the typical documentation normally required for a settlement.

The “Occasional Special Requirements” listed in the third column are documents that are occasionally required before a settlement can be held. It is especially important for anyone responsible for any pre-settlement activities to be able to identify the special situations in which these documents will be required because, although they occur only occasionally, when they do occur, the settlement cannot go forward without the required documents. Since it may require a significant amount of lead time to obtain some of these documents, it may cause an embarrassing and expensive settlement delay if it is not determined until the day of settlement that they will be required in order to complete the settlement.

The documents that are typically prepared by the settlement agent are identified in the fourth column. The flow of the documents to and from the settlement agent are indicated by the arrows in the chart.

Everyone involved in a settlement needs to understand what documents are required where and when so that the settlement can proceed smoothly and be completed at the appointed time.

Mr. Brincefield is the senior attorney in the law firm of Brincefield, Hartnett, P.C., in Alexandria, Virginia. He has served as Chairman of the Real Estate Sections of the Virginia and D.C. Bars and was a real estate broker before becoming an attorney.


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