The Process for Purchasing a House With Cash
Several years ago I wrote an article about the pros and cons of paying cash for a house. Some readers asked me how this can be done and what the procedures are. Last year my husband and I actually did purchase a property with cash, and here is our experience. (See also: How to Live a (Nearly) Cash-Only Life)
The property we bought was listed on the public multiple listing service. It was bank owned, so I called the listing agent and asked for an appointment. The listing agent immediately told us that the bank could only accept cash offers at this point because the property already has another cash offer on it. After seeing it and finding that it was in great condition, I made a pretty fair offer that was about 95% of the listing price. I also had to submit evidence of my funds along with my offer. The bank gladly accepted, and I sent in an earnest deposit check for $5,000. This check was then put into escrow towards the purchase of the house.
Next, we hired an inspector to look at the property to see if there are any defects. Unfortunately, the air conditioning system was broken, but the bank refused to pay for it, and we agreed to fix it out of pocket. The bank did agree to pay for title insurance, half of the escrow fee, and clear all liens from the property. So I made sure that all the unpaid bills and taxes on the property were paid before closing.
Meanwhile, I was gathering my funds all into one account so that I could send it into escrow before closing. We were able to choose our closing date to be the end of June, since we didn't have to deal with a loan. This was advantageous to us, since the bank had to pay all the property taxes for the first half year. I asked for the HUD closing statement about three days before closing and made sure that everything looked correct.
On the day before closing, I made sure all the funds were in my account and then sent the money to escrow. Everything went fairly smoothly, and the whole process took about three weeks from looking at the property to getting the keys. The closing costs were less than 1% of the price of the property because we didn't have to deal with a loan.
We were able to fix the air conditioner for a very fair price, and we rented the property out after several weeks of open houses. Now that we've owned the property for more than six months, we are actually eligible to take money out via a cash out refinance, but we don't need the money right now. The point is that if we didn't make a cash offer, then we would not have been able to procure this property at all. Basically, the process to buying a house with a cash on the open market is pretty much the same as buying a house with a loan, but you have more flexibility on the closing date, and that is a competitive advantage over offers with a loan contingency. You don't have to sign as many papers, but you still have to do your due diligence and make sure that you have a bit of cash buffer left over after the purchase for possible repairs and improvements.
What do you think? Are you thinking of buying a house with cash?