A Comprehensive Checklist to Closing Your House
By Annie Sisk
Closing the sales transaction may seem like a piece of cake compared to all the work involved in selling your home. You’ve cleaned, improved, painted, and staged. You’ve coordinated open houses and inspection visits with your agent. You’ve responded to countless questions and maybe a few offers. You’ve negotiated the sale of your home.
After all that, closing is just signing a few documents in front of the closing attorney or the escrow officer and turning in your keys, right?
Not so fast!
Before you sail off into the sunset, make sure you know exactly what to expect from the closing process for your home. While it’s true that the buyer bears the lion’s share of the work at a closing, thanks to the likely involvement of a mortgage lender, the seller also needs to be prepared for the process.
Start early, well before the closing, and keep this checklist in hand as you get closer to the closing date. As always, keep in mind that the seller’s obligations may vary from state to state, so it’s always a good idea to check with your realtor or real estate lawyer or escrow officer.
After the Offer:
o Familiarize yourself with any and all dates and deadlines mentioned in your contract of sale
o Make a list of all steps you’ll need to take to meet those deadlines
o Consider ordering your own inspection to avoid surprises when the buyer’s inspection report comes in
o Based on the results of your inspection, make important repairs. Consult with your agent first.
Preparing for Closing:
o Collect all keys and garage door openers, as well as any manuals, receipts and warranty cards for appliances. Place in labeled folders on counters so the new homeowner can locate and identify them easily.
o Arrange for your mail to be forwarded and change your address with the post office.
o Notify service providers, creditors, magazines and newspapers of your new address and effective date. Consider getting pre- printed postcards from a local print shop to make this job easier and quicker for you.
o Give your home one last thorough cleaning.
o Inspect corners, closets and beneath, behind or inside any furniture that isn’t coming with you in the move for belongings and trash.
o Perform one last walk through, to ensure you’ve collected everything that needs to be moved.
o Turn off all the valves to prevent accidental flooding. (Make sure you let the new buyer know you did this at the closing, so they don’t think there’s a bigger problem with the water!)
o Before the closing, review the HUD 1 Settlement Agreement and make sure everything is accurate. Notify your real estate agent of any problems or mistakes immediately.
o Review and gather all the documents you’ll need for closing as soon as possible to avoid a crisis at the last minute.
o Make sure you know how to cancel your insurance and all utilities. You don’t want to do this until the property has officially been recorded in the new owner’s name but make sure you have the documents and contact information you’ll need to do this in a readily accessible place after the closing.
What to Bring to the Closing:
o Driver’s license or some other form of state identification with photo (you’ll need one for each of the people on the deed of the house being sold)
o Your home’s deed if you own it outright
o Documents regarding the repairs and improvements you’ve made to the home as required by the home inspection
o Keys and security codes to the home
o A few pens (just in case)
o You probably won’t need the closing documents for your prior purchase of the same home, but it’s not a bad idea to make sure these are accessible in a single folder (i.e., the closing statement, contract of sale, seller disclosures, etc.)