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A Quick Road Map to the Typical Residential Real Estate Closing Table

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1.  CONTRACT STAGE

  • PRE-APPROVAL:
    • Buyer meets with their lender to review their credit and ability to obtain mortgage financing and confirm their maximum loan amount.
  • OFFER:
    • Buyer makes an “offer” by signing the residential real estate contract (with an attorney approval and inspection clause) along with the pre-approval letter and tenders the initial earnest money to the Seller.
  • CONTRACT:
    • The Seller accepts the offer by signing the contract (thus turning the offer into a contract) and delivering back to the Buyer.
  • ATTORNEYS:
    • The Buyer and Seller each provide a copy of the contract to their respective attorneys to allow time for the attorneys to review and diary all critical dates such as: attorney review period, inspection period, mortgage deadlines, closing date, and any other negotiated contingencies.

2.  REVIEW STAGE

  • INSPECTOR:
    • The Buyer hires an inspector during the inspection period to inspect home and uncover any possible defects. The Buyer then consults with the inspector, agent, and attorney as to any possible issues that need to be addressed as part of the transaction.
  • ATTORNEY REVIEW NEGOTIATIONS:
    • The parties, through their attorneys, will negotiate any possible inspection items and attorney modification items.
  • ADDITIONAL EARNEST MONEY:
    • Once the parties’ attorneys have negotiated the attorney review and inspection items, the Buyer will increase the initial earnest money as agreed upon per the contract.

3.  PROCESSING STAGE

  • TITLE & PREPARATIONS:
    • Following the final negotiation of the attorney review and inspection items, Seller or Seller’s attorney would be finalizing the title commitment, ensuring that all condominium documents and disclosures are provided to the Buyer, and/or working on ordering a survey for the Buyer’s counsel to review. It is ideal to have these documents as early as possible, even before the parties enter into the contract. Also, some condominium associations, if applicable, require that the Buyer complete an application and / or meet with the association to obtain condominium approval as to the Buyer. The parties should know ahead of time what is required for the association to issues a paid assessment letter.
  • LOAN PROCESSING:
    • During this same period, Buyer should be timely in providing any required documentation to the lender to satisfy any outstanding lender conditions that might prevent the lender from issuing a final mortgage commitment.
  • HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE:
    • The buyer is required to obtain homeowner’s insurance for the property. It is important that they make the determination during the attorney review period whether obtaining such insurance will be an issue or whether other types of insurance are required (i.e. flood zone insurance).

4. CLOSING STAGE

  • CLOSING SCHEDULING:
    • Once the Buyer obtains a firm written mortgage commitment, the Seller’s attorney will need to set the closing date and prepare the closing documents.
  • SELLER’S PREPARATIONS:
    • Prior to the closing, the Seller must make sure to satisfy any title objections, get payoff letters from their lender, obtain the required transfer stamp, if a Seller obligation, and make any home repairs required during the inspection period. In certain municipalities, the Buyer must obtain the transfer stamp prior to the closing.
  • BUYER’S PREPARATIONS:
    • Prior to the closing, Buyer will obtain a certified check made payable to the title company for the amount needed to close or arrange for a wire transfer with their bank if the amount to close is $50,000 or more.
  • CLOSING:
    • The parties will attend the closing (or arrange for a Power of Attorney) on the scheduled closing date and will exchange money, documents, and keys as required under the terms of the Contract.