Real estate transactions can take a long time, through a complicated process. So, when it comes time for closing, excitement mounts as you, the seller, prepare to leave your house behind to move on to bigger and better things. But what do you need to know about the closing process so you can go in educated and prepared?
Your first obligation is to keep your house in good condition between the viewing and offer process all the way through closing. Your house needs to be in the same condition when you leave it (or better!), than it was when the buyer last saw it. You may be liable for any damage done to the property between the acceptance of the offer and the closing date. For example, if your dog ate a hole in your carpet last week, you’ll need to have the carpet replaced or repaired before closing, or the buyer can take legal action.
If you had any contingencies for repairs in your contract, these will need to have been completed prior to the closing date. For example, if the buyer or home inspector identified a leak in your water heater and added a contingency in the contract for that to be replaced or repaired, you’ll have had to have that completed before closing date. Not completing contingency items could void your contract and put you right back to square one – or worse, could lead to legal actions against you. Make sure all of your contingency tasks are completed.
Give notice to your utilities and service providers that you will be leaving the home by the date specified in your contract. This will also position you to receive any refunds on utility deposits, if applicable. However, leave your homeowner’s insurance in tact until the day of closing when the title is transferred so that you’ll retain the right to file a claim should anything happen between now and the closing date.
If you have any paperwork for the property, such as warranties or homeowner’s association documentation, prepare that in advance and supply it with your keys and other items for closing.
As of the closing date, unless otherwise specified in writing in your contract, you will no longer own your property, will be relinquishing the keys, and won’t be allowed back in. Make sure all of your personal items have been packed up and moved out of the property.
You may not be required to attend the closing, but may choose to do so if you’d like. Your paperwork and obligations will have been met before hand and your agent can attend the closing on your behalf. However, the buyer will likely be required to attend, especially if loan documents need signed.
The closing is usually conducted at the escrow office, or at a neutral location. The escrow officer is a third-party professional who conducts the tasks required to complete the transaction. For example, the escrow officer verifies that the title to the property is free and clear and not bound by liens or that there hasn’t been a tax levy placed on the property. Next, they take care of having all documents signed and prepared for filing. The escrow agent then makes sure everyone is paid out of the funds transferred from the buyer to the seller through the mortgage loan process. This means paying off your existing mortgage, paying the appraiser, home inspector, both real estate agents, the lender, and any other professionals involved in the sale of your property. And, finally, once everyone involved has been paid, a check is cut with your name on it for the balance.
Once the closing process is complete, the buyer takes possession of the property as the new owner, and you are free and clear of that property. Within a short period after closing, usually before 30 days, you’ll receive a paid-in-full receipt from the mortgage on the property you’ve just sold. Make sure you keep all of your contracts, documents, and receipts filed in a secure place in the event you should need them in the future.
Your professional, qualified real estate agent will help advise and guide you through the closing process on the property you’ve sold. Ready to discuss selling your home? Call us at 704-258-3117.
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