Understanding The Complete House Selling Process In 4 Steps

cartoon house with red "sold!" sign over it and 4 steps below it to indicate the house selling process

The house selling process can seem complex and overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time or if you haven’t gone through it in a while. It is the sale of one of the largest assets you own and always seems to be tied to a few “moving parts.”

For this article, we will be going over the house selling process from the point of a contract being signed through the settlement as these steps are the most confusing. There are certainly important aspects to figure out prior to a signed contract, such as whether you should sell with a realtor or to a professional home buyer. For this, you can check out our other articles.

The 4 Steps In The Home Selling Process

Below is an illustration of the process, and we will elaborate on each of these 4 steps:

a cartoon of a black pen writing a check to illustrate the first step in the house selling process

(1) Deliver The Earnest Money Deposit (EMD)

a checklist with a cartoon pencil appearing to check items off the list. This is step 2 in the house selling process

(2) Info Form For Settlement Company

a very simple clock

(3) Get Through Inspection(s)

a blue cartoon pencil signing a contract

(4) Go To Settlement

Step 1 Of The House Selling Process: Deliver EMD

So, someone makes you an offer and you have signed it….now what? The first step in the house selling process is delivering the EMD (earnest money deposit). This is the deposit that the buyer puts up to show that they are serious about buying the property.

Typically, the settlement company listed on the contract will be the one that holds this deposit until settlement. As a seller, there is nothing needing to be done here. Most of the steps in the sales process fall on the buyer.

Step 2 Of The House Selling Process: Info For Settlement Company

The second step is to get the settlement company the information they need. Settlement companies are a neutral third party in the transaction that are responsible for collecting all the funds, disbursing the funds to all the different recipients including you, and recording the sale at the county courthouse. There are other important things they do, but these are the primary functions of a settlement company.

Think of them as a “mediator” between you and the buyer. They are completely neutral, meaning they have no vested interest in the sale or purchase of the property. Their job is to simply make sure it happens fairly for both parties according to the terms of the signed contract. Some information will be needed for the settlement company, such as your mailing address, full name, birthday, etc.

Step 3 Of The House Selling Process: Get Through Inspection(s)

The third step is to get through the different contingencies of the contract. These are escape clauses on the contract allowing the buyer to perform various inspections of the property and secure financing. If you are selling your home to a professional home buyer, this process will be much simpler and may not even exist at all depending on if these clauses are in the contract.

The 2 most common contingencies are the home inspection contingency and financing contingency.

Home Inspection Contingency

The home inspection contingency is the period which the buyer is allowed to get an inspection and then negotiate for a credit from the seller, or for the seller to repair some or all of the items on the report.

This is usually more common when dealing with buyers on the traditional market. Professional home buyers are used to purchasing properties with “wear and tear” so the inspection contingency is streamlined, if it exists at all.

Financing Contingency

The financing contingency is the period that the buyer has to secure financing. Again, professional home buyers generally use cash or some form of private lending, so this process is much simpler and this contingency will typically not exist.

However, the person buying a home the traditional way (on ZillowRedfin, etc), with a realtor, will normally use an institutional bank or lender for their financing. This contingency will last much longer, typically 30-45 days.

Step 4 Of The House Selling Process: Settlement

After all these contingencies are met, the only thing left to do is settle on the property. This brings us to the fourth step. This is the fun part because the finish line is in sight! All inspections have been completed and any negotiations resulting from these inspections are complete.

The only thing left to do is set up a time to do the settlement and then sign your life away! I am just kidding, you don’t sign your life away, you just sign your house away and there are lots of papers needing to be signed to finalize the sale. Most settlement companies will be able to do a remote settlement if you prefer to not go into their office.

They can even come to your home to do the closing. Once the settlement is complete and the sale is recorded with the courthouse, the funds will then be disbursed and you will receive the proceeds from the sale.

You will know what this figure is long before you ever get to the settlement, but it will usually hit your account if wired, or the check mailed, 1-2 business days after the settlement is complete. Hooray! You are all finished selling your home.


The process of selling a home is not as complicated as a lot of people make it out to be. There are very few “action items” for the seller to do, most of this falls on the buyer. If you ever have any questions about this, feel free to reach out and we will be happy to help.

And if you are considering selling your house as is to an investor, be sure to check out Home Sale Solutions!