Whether you're upgrading, downsizing, relocating for work, or preparing to retire, the decision to buy or sell a home is difficult. Whatever the reason for your move, there is a lot that happens between the time a "For Sale" sign is pounded into the seller's yard and the buyer receives the keys to the new house.
First-time home buyers and sellers, in particular, may be unsure of what to expect at closing or what a closing comprises from beginning to end. The closing process covers everything happening between the time the seller accepts an offer and the close date or the date when the buyer formally acquires ownership of the home.
Here's a handy cheat sheet to assist you in comprehending each phase of the closing process:
Naturally, the seller's first action in the closing process is to market their home for sale. You must pick whether to work with a real estate agent (or listing agent) or sell the home yourself as the seller. An agent promotes the property, enters it into the MLS database, prepares paperwork, and communicates with the buyer's agent. The listing agent will often charge a commission for their services, which they will split with the buyer's agent.
Once your home is listed, you must keep it clean, nice, and clutter-free to accommodate showings, which is a key part of the selling process. Allowing as many potential buyers as possible to view your home may increase your chances of obtaining several bids. It's usually a good idea to leave the property so that prospective buyers may look around without being distracted.
Re-stage the home every day in preparation for impromptu showings. Setting up a few evenings each week for showings could be beneficial. You may also want to schedule viewings by appointment only to give yourself more time to prepare. Your agent will provide a lockbox so they can enter the residence at the agreed-upon time. Your realtor may also advise you to host an open house to reach out to a large number of potential purchasers in a single day.
After generating interest through showings, offers should begin to flood in - especially if your agent appropriately publicized and priced your home. In today's seller's market, this might happen as soon as your home hits the market. However, you may have to wait till after a few showings. In general, the better your home's condition, the more offers you'll receive and the easier it will be to justify the price.
A buyer's willingness to pay, suggested closing and occupancy dates, and any contingencies (such as the sale of the buyer's current home or a satisfactory home inspection) are typically included in an offer. Remember that the highest bid isn't always the best offer. For example, if the offer is contingent on the buyer's ability to finance the property, you could be back at square one. Your agent can help you assess the strength of each offer.
Negotiations between the seller and potential purchasers follow. If a seller receives an offer that they believe is too low, they can respond with a counteroffer to start the negotiating process. Furthermore, if a buyer is dissatisfied with the counter price, they may propose another compromise. Of course, negotiation strength is heavily influenced by market conditions.
In a seller's market, for example, buyers frequently lack bargaining strength. If a buyer's offer is too low or too laden with contingencies, the seller may choose not to negotiate. In addition, in a hot market, buyers must act swiftly, possibly making an offer the same day they visit the house. If you are a buyer who is not pre-approved for a loan, your offer will almost certainly be rejected in favor of buyers who can provide a pre-approval letter.
After the seller accepts an offer, the buyer must schedule a house inspection. In addition to an appraisal, the buyer will almost definitely seek a house inspection within a few days of signing the contract to ensure they're making a wise investment. A home inspector will look at the house's structure, roof, electrical system, and plumbing. They will also inspect the interior and exterior of the home for faults, dangers, or mechanical problems, as well as pests.
After the inspection, the inspector will provide the buyer with a report detailing what was inspected and which repairs may be required. The seller should have delivered their seller disclosures before signing the contract. Homeowners are obligated by law to provide a complete disclosure of any challenges they face while living in the house that may have an influence on the property value or appeal of the home. Owners of properties built before 1978, for example, must disclose the existence of lead-based paint. The buyer proceeds to the following level if everything appears to be in order.
The buyer should now proceed with the application for a mortgage loan from the lender of their choice. It's an excellent idea for a buyer to acquire quotations from multiple lenders, and you're not required to choose the lender who pre-approved you. Lenders will inquire about your earnings, job, debts, and assets. Prepare to present the following:
The lender can help you determine which type of mortgage is best for you. This could be a conventional or government-issued loan with a fixed or adjustable-rate mortgage (VA, FHA, USDA). You will be given a loan estimate that explains the terms of your loan, including expected closing costs, interest rate, and monthly payments (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance).
Following the signing of the real estate contract for the purchase and sale of the home by the buyer and seller, the seller's agent should deliver the contract and earnest money check to a reputable title business, which will develop a working file for the transaction. To protect both the buyer and seller, the title company will open an escrow account and hold the deposit and contract until the closing.
Shortly after handling your real estate contract, the title company will do a thorough title search to validate the property's legal ownership and find any claims or liens on the property. The company will then issue a title insurance commitment, which will be delivered to both the buyer and seller, as well as their agents, and will act as a guarantee to offer a title insurance policy for the property after closing.
Because the title commitment has the same terms, conditions, and exclusions as the actual insurance policy, the buyer should carefully review the document to identify any title problems. It could reveal whether the property has any easements, deed restrictions, or debts. If the buyer objects to an entry on the commitment, he or she must normally do so within a certain time frame, or the flaw will remain as an exception to the final policy.
Receiving mortgage approval, which can take several weeks, is an exciting moment in the closing process for buyers. Before approval, an underwriter will analyze your finances to see whether you can afford the house loan you want and whether the home you're buying provides appropriate collateral for the mortgage. After the underwriting staff has thoroughly evaluated your qualifying qualifications and awarded your loan final approval, you will be able to close on your loan.
When the buyer is ready to close, the parties must establish a closing date with the title firm. The closing will take place in your title agent's, real estate agent's, or attorney's office and will mark the completion of your real estate transaction. The parties should expect to sign a lot of documentation, including the deed to the property being transferred from the seller to the buyer. You may be able to sign portions of the documentation ahead of time in some situations. You could even be able to plan an online closing from the convenience of your own home or another place.
Once your closing date has been determined, the title company will begin preparing the real estate settlement documents for signature.
Buyer documentation could include:
Documents provided by the seller may include:
At the closing, the buyer is responsible for paying closing costs, the down payment, prepaid interest, property taxes, and insurance. Instead of a personal check, you must submit a cashier's check drawn out in the amount specified by your lender or title insurer before closing day. Your bank certifies that you have sufficient funds to pay the cashier's check amount. Depending on the amount needed for closing, the title firm may require you to use a wire transfer to transfer funds straight from your banking institution to the payee's.
On closing day, the parties may convene to sign the documents transferring ownership of the home to the buyer, as well as to pay closing costs, loan fees, and any relevant taxes. While you may be apprehensive as the big day approaches, you can put your mind at ease by gathering your papers, obtaining your cashier's check, and consulting with the title company and your real estate agent ahead of time. They will provide you with a list of items that you must bring to the closure.
Once the closing is complete, there are only a few things left to do, including:
After months of due research and preparation, it's time to celebrate - your closing has been
accomplished, and the buyer is now the official owner of the home!
We understand how stressful the process of buying or selling a home can be. Our knowledgeable title and closing specialists are here to answer your questions and help you with every part of your closing. We strive to make each transaction a great experience for all parties involved, whether you are a buyer or a seller.
Call us at 317-214-6023 to learn more.