SOLD! What Happens Next?

For buyers, sellers and others interested in understanding the basic steps in a typical real estate transaction.

Now that you have decided to buy or sell your home, what happens between now and the time it becomes legally owned by you or another party?

Behind the scenes — What title companies do.

Earnest Money

An agreement to convey starts the process once it is received at the title company. Loan application is made by the buyer and approval is usually subject to a credit check, appraisal and sometimes, a survey of the property. 

Tax Check

What taxes are owed on the property? The various assessor-collectors are contacted by the title company. 

Title Search

Copies of documents are gathered from various public records: deeds, deeds of trust, various assessments and matters of probate, heirship and divorce, and bankruptcy are addressed. 


Verification of the legal owner and debts owed. 

Document Preparation

Appropriate forms are prepared for conveyance and settlement. 


An escrow officer oversees the closing of the transaction: seller signs deed, buyer signs new mortgage, old loan is paid off and the new loan established. Seller, REALTORS®, attorneys, surveyors, title company and others performing services for the parties are paid. Title insurance policies will then be issued to you and your lender.

  • In different parts of the country, some of these functions are performed by attorneys, lenders, escrow companies and other persons who are independent of, but agents for, title companies.
  • Title companies and their agents search, examine, close and insure land titles. Title insurance policies are issued to the homeowner and the lender, assuring financial protection against adverse claims or risks.
  • Equally important, potential title problems surfaced in the process of insuring a title can be resolved by the parties prior to closing their transaction. In this manner, many risks that are otherwise hidden can be avoided.
  • Once purchased, title insurance remains in effect for as long as you own your home. It adds security of ownership and peace of mind to the homeowner and lender.