In Massachusetts, a real estate contract must be in writing in order to be valid. In many states, there is only one contract signed prior to closing. However, in Massachusetts, there are two: the Offer to Purchase followed by the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
The steps and typical timetable are as follows:
1. Submission of an Offer to Purchase, accompanied by a binder (usually $1000 or more).
2. Professional home inspections are arranged. These inspections are generally conducted within 5 working days from the date a seller has accepted your offer.
3. Real estate attorneys are engaged.
4. Application for a mortgage is submitted.
5. Approximately 10 to 14 days after the initial agreement is signed, the Purchase and Sale Agreement that has been prepared by the attorneys is executed. It is usually accompanied by a deposit of 5% - 10% of the purchase price.
6. Mortgage commitment is received.
The above steps most often occur within a 60 day time period.