Investing in real estate is something that becomes less intimidating or confusing the more familiar you become with the process. The closing table represents the pinnacle of success for the buyer, as well as the seller. One person walks away with the keys to a new piece of real estate, and the other receives a (hopefully sizeable) proceeds check. It’s a win-win situation. Except when it’s not. Things can and do go wrong at the closing table.
Does knowing what to expect at settlement increase the likelihood of a successful transaction for both parties?
Short answer: Yes. Let's discuss...
Scheduling the Closing
An important item to note is that your closing date may be subject to change. Last minute hiccups can push your closing by several hours to several weeks. Erroneous paperwork, lender issues, problems with title, mistakes in the mortgage application, even weather are factors that may throw a wrench in your timeline. Don’t try to squeeze closing in during your lunch hour at work or plan any pressing appointments or trips on or around the closing date. It’s better to be safe than sorry and readily accept that blips may appear on the settlement date radar.
Who Will Be At the Closing Table?
You can expect a number of people to be at the closing table, depending on the specifics of the real estate transaction. Attendees might include:
- The buyer
- The buyer’s agent
- Real estate attorney
- The seller
- The seller’s agent
- The lender’s representative
- The mortgage broker
- A secretary
- Notary Public
What’s the Atmosphere Like at the Closing Table?
The closing table atmosphere can be surprisingly informal. Sometimes it may feel a bit awkward when buyers and sellers finally meet, but since everyone there has the same goal, and the terms have already been agreed upon, business is generally attended to efficiently and effectively. Typically, it’s in the best interests of both parties not to discuss the property or future plans for the property at the closing table in order to ensure the proceedings move along smoothly.
What Documents Will Be at the Closing Table?
Closing documents will be prepared in advance by the professionals, including the real estate agents, any involved attorneys, the mortgage broker, and the title company. These documents willneed to be signed and sometimes notarized. The buyer and the seller will need to present photo IDs at the closing table before signing any documents. Both parties should also bring any necessary certified checks, as well as a personal checkbook in case of last minute issues, such as closing costs, appraisal or processing fees. The documents at the closing table may include:
- Title - indicates who has legal ownership and rights to buy and sell the property
- Settlement statement - a listing of every fee and expense that the owner and buyer are responsible for
- Property inspection report - a detailed report, including images, of the condition of the property
- Mortgage note - a note that indicates the terms of the financing for the buyer
- Deed of Trust - a note that secures the property as collateral for the loan
- Lien Certificate - issued in the event that a third party has claims on the property
- Truth in Lending Statement - a disclosure statement notifying the borrower of their rights and responsibilities
After all the negotiating, the waiting, the wondering and the speculation, the closing table makes it all worthwhile. In addition to educating yourself about the closing process, teaming up with reputable professionals – such as a trustworthy Realtor and lender – will help ensure that your real estate property transaction goes smoothly.
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