When you find the right home and the seller accepts your offer, the buyer's real estate agent will have you sign a standard contract. It the property is being sold by the owner, you will still be signing a contract.
Signing a contract for a home is serious business and you'll want an experienced attorney, like Adam Schneider, to examine the contract. The law provides you with three business days for an attorney review where your lawyer and the seller's lawyer negotiate revisions. Either the buyer or the seller can cancel the contract in those three days. If acceptable to both parties, you'll put a deposit (usually but not necessarily 5 - 10%) on the property. Adam will make sure the contract has a mortgage contingency clause, an important protection that allows you to cancel the contract if you cannot obtain a mortgage for the property.
After signing, you have a right to bring in a licensed home inspector to do a thorough physical inspection of the property. This is highly recommended because it protects you from buying a property with structural damage, environmental issues, or other problems. If there are problems, you can negotiate remediation, a price adjustment, or cancel the contract.
A closing will be scheduled for an agreed upon date - the seller needs time to make new living arrangements, arrange their financing, and clear out their belongings, while you also need time to prepare for the move. A title search is required to make sure the deed is clear of any liens and that the owner is, indeed, the owner. This is a time of details and deadlines and, of course, stress.
On the day of your closing, you will do a walk-through of the home. If all is as agreed upon, Adam will have you sign the mortgage documents, then you'll meet with the seller and his/her attorney for the title transfer. The seller will turn over the keys and the house is yours. Then go ahead and start unpacking - Adam will make sure the deed and any other important paperwork is filed.