The Closing Process & Legal Concerns for Home Sellers
The official closing in a real estate transaction is the final exchange of the home for the buyer’s money. You may have a closing meeting that involves your agent, your attorney, and the escrow officer. The buyer, their agent, and their attorney may come to this meeting, or there may be two separate meetings for each half of the closing. You should prepare yourself for the possibility that something unexpected will happen and delay the closing. However, the buyer will have put considerable effort and money into trying to make the deal happen as well. You should not be overly worried that they will back out at the last minute because of a minor hurdle. If anything does go wrong, your real estate agent and your attorney (if you are represented) will do their best to keep the deal on track.
That said, sometimes a buyer will encounter obstacles to getting their loan. The lender may voice concerns at the last minute about the buyer’s financial status or about the seller’s compliance with certain contingencies. Some states require lenders to give buyers three business days to review the final disclosure forms related to the closing. As a result, if anything changes or if the closing does not happen on schedule, you may need to allow an extra three-day period before the process can be completed.
Items to Prepare for the Closing
This may seem obvious, but you should make sure to bring the keys to your home so that the buyer can gain entry and take possession. If your house has a garage, you should bring the garage door opener as well. Many states require a seller to provide a photo ID, such as a passport or a driver’s license, so that the notary public can review it before stamping the signed deed and other property documents.
Seller Closing Checklist
Garage door opener
Utility payment receipts
Manuals for appliances and equipment
Records of previous repairs
Other documents stipulated in the purchase and sale agreement
To complete the transfer of title, you will need to provide the buyer with the house deed. If you hire an agent, they may handle this part of the process for you. It does not need to happen at the closing meeting in most cases. Similarly, you should provide the buyer with receipts to show that you have kept up with your utilities payments. This assures the buyer that they are taking title without unpaid liens on the property. If you have certain appliances or equipment in your home, such as a washing machine or dishwasher, you should give the buyer manuals for how to use them. If you have repaired some of the appliances, you can provide records of the repairs and offer recommendations of people who can handle future repairs. You do not need to bring these documents to the closing meeting but can leave them in a safe place in your home where the buyer can find them.
For certain types of property, you may need to provide the buyer with additional documents. Someone who purchases a condominium or another home in a common interest development, for example, may need to have certain documents related to their right of ownership and responsibilities. You should review the purchase and sale agreement to make sure that you transfer any documents that it stipulates.