Cable television viewers love shows about buying and renovating homes. In fact, HGTV's long-running show, "House Hunters" has enjoyed over 19 years in the limelight and "This Old House", a PBS offering, has been on the air even longer. While they all make for great entertainment, none of them shares the behind-the-scenes details of what happens in a real estate transaction after the price is agreed upon and the offer is accepted. 

Step 1:

Once all paperwork is "bottom-lined," it heads over to a transaction coordinator. Sometimes this is the actual listing agent, but usually, it is someone on his/her team. This person becomes the point of contact for your agent, the title company, the seller, and everyone else involved in the closing process and the transaction coordinator's first order of business is to coordinate the inspection with the buyer.

Step 2:

Most residential real estate offers are contingent on inspection, which means that the buyer reserves the right to walk away from the deal if something unusual is discovered during the inspection. The buyer's agent has a list of reputable inspectors that he/she can recommend and an appointment is scheduled within a week of the offer being accepted. The sellers do not attend the inspection. The only people present are the buyers, their realtor, and the inspector. Most inspection take two or three hours, during which time the inspector examines the home's foundation, roof, mechanical systems, and more. He discusses maintenance issues, life expectancy of various components, and any problems that arise. 

Step 3: 

Once the inspection is over, the transaction coordinator will ensure that the inspection contingency is released, all repairs are made, and all parties have signed the paperwork. Title work is ordered at this time as well. This simply means that a title company is hired to make sure the property has a clear title and the sellers have the right to sell it. The title company will also coordinate the sale and exchange of funds on the closing day.

Step 4: 

In addition to ordering title work, the transaction coordinator will be in contact with the buyer's mortgage officer to coordinate the appraisal. The bank will send an appraiser to the home to determine the value of the home. They want to ensure that the buyer is not overpaying. Neither the buyer or seller needs to attend the appraisal. The bank only reports if there is a problem in the home's value.

Step 5: 

The last step in the home buying process is the closing. The transaction coordinator schedules a time with all parties to attend, usually in person. The time slots are based on availability in the title company's schedule, not at the convenience of the buyer or seller. The closing itself lasts about one hour.

Done. Welcome home. And, now you know how to buy real estate.