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Residential Closings Q&A

Real Estate Closing Questions

  • When do I need to hire a real estate attorney as a Seller?

    As soon as you decide you are going to list the home. Your attorney can help you review the agent’s real estate listing commission agreement or for sale by owner documents and prepare the home’s title. Typically, the attorney is brought in once the home has an offer from a buyer. Make sure the contract has an attorney review clause that allows five business days for your attorney to review the contract.
  • When do I need to call a real estate attorney as a Buyer?

    As soon as you decide that you are going to search for a home or investment. Your attorney can give you tips and provide articles that will be helpful. Make sure the contract has an attorney review clause that allows five business days for your attorney to review the contract.
  • When does the Attorney Review end?

    The Attorney Review ends when the attorneys sign off on an agreed modification and / or inspection rider.
  • How can the Attorney Review get completed faster?

    Best to hire a responsive attorney and provide answers to the attorney on a timely basis. Contacting the attorney before a contract is signed will help as well as title, documents and required disclosures can be gathered.
  • What can cause the Attorney Review to end in a cancelled contract?

    Not having the required disclosures up front before the contract is signed to allow the HOA to remedy issues contained in them. As a Seller --- not prepping the home for sale by having a contractor or handy man fix defects. Repairs cost more when you have a for sale sign out front. As a Buyer --- hiring an overly aggressive inspector who has the goal to scare you so you so you cancel the contract and hire them to do another inspection on the next home you select.
  • Do I need to put the home in a Land Trust or Revocable Trust?

    Do you need privacy or estate planning? Talk to your attorney about specifics. Lenders do not always allow, so plan ahead at the application stage.
  • I am not married to my partner; do we need an agreement of some kind regarding the home?

    Yes, your attorney can draft a co-ownership agreement to spell the terms, especially if there is a split up.
  • What does the Seller need to do before the closing?

    Order the water reading from the municipality, the municipal inspection (if required), purchase transfer stamps (if required). Your attorney may order some of these items as well as prepare the deed and other closing documents, order your loan payoff and HOA letter or survey (if required) and schedule the closing.
  • What does the Buyer need to do before the closing?

    Check in with the lender and follow their exact instructions without any shortcuts or making any assumptions. Call or email for clarifications –communication is the key. Purchase transfer stamps (if a buyer required charge). Your attorney will schedule the closing and coordinate with your lender and all other parties. The Buyer will need to wire funds to closing or provide a cashier’s check payable to the title company. Ask your attorney which one is needed based on your circumstances. Generally, for amounts over $50,000 in the aggregate, funds must be wired and under $50,000, a cashier’s check payable to your specific title company is required. If you are getting funds from an investment account or an out of town bank, please call that institution as you may need lead times or actually appear in the bank (no email, fax or verbal requests).
  • What should I avoid doing before the closing as a buyer?

    Do not change jobs, open or close credit account or make large purchases without talking to your lender. You may disqualify yourself for the loan.
  • What should I avoid doing before the closing as the seller?

    Do not remove items from the home that are required to stay with the home. Do not draw from your home equity line of credit. Do not forget to do repairs required in the inspection period. Do not forget to leave the home broom clean and free of debris (even in the alley) and have the home cleaned for a classy turnover.
  • How much do I need to bring to closing?

    Your lender would have provided a Good Faith Estimate of closing costs when you applied for the loan. You can use that as a guide. It is best to call your lender and get an estimate of the needed funds, generally referred to as the bottom line or cash to close. You will not always have the exact amount needed as the HUD-1 Closing Statement may not always be available because of lender or seller delays. In any event, always bring a thousand or so extra in your check or wire as changes occur frequently – because of changes to recording fees, insurance premiums or other items. If your lender cannot get this to you for some reason, your attorney can give an estimate.
  • Do I have to pay all the charges on the GFE?

    No! The GFE discloses your costs and some of the Seller’s costs as they believed this give you a truer picture of the transaction. You do not generally pay for the owner’s title insurance policy and Seller transfer stamps, although it will be disclosed that way.
  • What will your realtor do before the closing?

    Coordinate the final walkthrough and provide commission documents. The agents may also arrange for water readings, stamps and / or municipal inspections.
  • How long does a closing take?

    Generally about 2 hours, depending mainly on the lender.
  • What happens at a closing?

    he buyer signs their loan documents, such as the Note and Mortgage and required disclosures. The Seller and Buyer sign the closing statement and Deed and other transfer documents. The title company follows the lender’s instructions and provides clear title.
  • Do I have to be at the closing as a Seller?

    No, you can pre-sign the documents and get the proceeds wired to your account. There are specific reasons not to attend.
  • Do I have to be at the closing as a Buyer?

    Generally, the lender wants you to be at the closing and sign the loan documents. Sometimes, if approved in advance, the Lender will allow you to have another person sign using a Power of Attorney.
  • Does my spouse have to be at the closing if my spouse is not on the loan?

    Yes, most lenders want the spouse to waive homestead rights.
  • When do I change the utilities (Electric, Gas, Cable, Internet)?

    As a Seller, call the utilities and tell them you are selling and that the buyer will transfer the bill to their name effective on the day after closing. Do not shut off utilities as the appraisal, inspection, and walkthrough cannot occur and there will be costs and delays. As a Buyer, call the day of the closing and transfer the utilities in your name. Note, the water account will be transferred by the deed or water certification application.
  • What does the Buyer need to do after the closing?

    Be sure you know if you or your lender pays the taxes. Know how to track payments and exemptions with the county treasurer’s website. Also know when your first loan and HOA payments begin. Forward the mail to your new home.
  • What does the Seller need to do after the closing?

    Send the HUD-1 to your tax preparer and confirm the proceeds were wired into your account.