Closing the Deal
House? Check. Mortgage? Check. That leaves just the closing before you can call yourself a homeowner. The closing is where you and the seller sign all the necessary paperwork, exchange money (usually in the form of a check) and you take legal possession of the property.
The whole process can seem overwhelming thanks to all the papers you have to sign (dozens) and money you’re attaching your name to (how much?!), so don’t be afraid to ask questions and read every line on those papers.
Before the Closing
- Set the date – This your Realtor usually handles. The date must be within the terms that your offer and mortgage spell out.
- Choose a closing agent – Your Realtor usually has a few they recommend or you can go with someone you prefer. A closing agent prepares all of the necessary paperwork.
- Meet conditions – Now is the time to make sure you’ve met all of the conditions of the contract. Do certain repairs need to happen beforehand? Are there lien or zoning issues to handle?
- Homeowner’s Insurance – This is required by all lenders. Shop around for the best deal. Most companies offer you a discount if you insure both your cars and home with them. You’ll need to bring the policy and usually a receipt of payment of the first year’s premium.
- Revisit your house – Make sure nothing has happened to the house since you were last there. This is also the time to double-check any repairs that were supposed to be made.
Getting your mortgage isn’t the only thing your lender should help you with. Your lender also:
- Obtains a title search to make sure the title to your home is clear, meaning that there are no legal claims/liens against it for unpaid bills or taxes.
- Obtains title insurance before closing. This will protect the lender and you if any flaws in the title turn up after closing.
- May have to get a survey done of the property before closing to make sure the boundaries are accurately spelled out on the purchase agreement.
The costs for the title search, title insurance and survey are part of your closing costs.
The day has finally arrived. You’re hours away from owning your first home! While all of the hard stuff is behind you, you still have a job to do. That’s to bring the following to the closing with you:
- Proof of homeowner’s insurance
- A photo ID of everyone who’s on the deed to the house
- Money. You’ll find out beforehand, often the day before, the exact total of your closing costs. You’ll need to get a certified or cashier’s check for that amount and bring it with you to closing.
You’ll sit at a big table with your Realtor, the closing agent, your lender, the sellers and their Realtor, if applicable, and sign a huge pile of papers. Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions and read the fine print. At the end, you’ll receive the keys to your new home.
Congratulations! You’re a homeowner!