Closing is the final step of a real estate transaction, where ownership of the property is officially transferred and money changes hands. The days leading up to closing can stressful for everyone – buyers may be a bit nervous about making such a commitment and both parties, particularly sellers, hope that some unforeseen last-minute glitch doesn’t prevent the transaction from happening.
Although few closings are completely derailed by major setbacks, it can happen. To ensure your transaction closes quickly, it’s best to be prepared.
Closing is more of a process than an event. It actually begins weeks before the buyer and seller sign stacks of documents across the table from each other.
In preparing for closing, buyers should review everything that has been done in connection with inspections, title work and surveys to make sure that there are no loose ends. If the contract calls for the seller to make repairs, the buyer should confirm that the work has been completed to his satisfaction. Ensure that the lender knows the time and date of the closing and has copies of any contract addenda.
In addition, the buyer needs to complete several tasks before closing:
Obtain homeowner's insurance. The policy should be in place and ready to go in effect days before closing.
Change the name on the utilities. The buyer should verify that the seller has canceled his accounts and have service scheduled to be turned on.
Schedule a walk-through. Conduct the walk-through near the closing date, but leave a few extra days as a cushion if the contract calls for the seller to make repairs prior to closing.
Review closing documents ahead of time. There are pages and pages of documents that the buyer will have to sign, and he should understand what they all mean. There won't be enough time at the closing to read them, so get copies ahead of time.
Make sure that the necessary funds are available. Transfer money, obtain a cashier’s check – do whatever must be done to have the funds for downpayment and closing costs on hand. The lender will provide a statement of the actual costs a few days before closing, so there shouldn’t be any surprises.
A delayed closing
Even if the transaction doesn't close on time, it doesn't mean all is lost. Sometimes the seller has a problem clearing a title, which can lead to the buyer fretting about his temporarily locked-in interest rate. Buyers need to know how long their rate is frozen for and have a plan in place with another lender if the closing gets delayed beyond that point.
In some cases, buyers may have trouble securing financing. In this case, sellers can entertain contingent contracts from other buyers. These contingent contracts usually don’t come into play. But when the original contract doesn’t close on time, the seller may move on to the next offer and sell the house before the first buyer can receive funding.
Do your part
The most important thing to remember is that before closing you want to be certain that all the conditions of the contract, like seller repairs, have been met. Before signing your name to any closing documents, check that everything is correct, including the interest rate, fees charged and condition of the property.
Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, making a list is a great way to cover your bases. There’s a lot going on, and you don’t want to forget something – especially if it’s something you knew you were supposed to do or bring. Here are some basic ideas:
Buyer's closing checklist
A cashier's check or money order for the amount specified on your final settlement costs statement
Your personal checkbook in the unlikely event other charges come up at closing.
Proof of a homeowner's insurance policy.
Your lender's good faith estimate.
Some form of identification (i.e., drivers license, passport, etc.)
Seller's closing checklist
Keys, padlock combinations and garage-door openers.
Codes to security system. (if applicable)
Owners manuals for all appliances.
Checkbook for closing costs or other expenses paid by seller. (as agreed to as part of the buyer's final offer)
An expert in the industry, your Texas Realtor can help you navigate the closing process, answering any questions that may arise. For more information on buying or selling property in Texas, please call Waymond Lightfoot at (210) 386-5201.