9 Helpful Steps That Lead Up to Real Estate Closing

By Chika


Last Updated: April 9, 2022


Real estate closings are a lengthy and complex procedure that requires the completion of several processes before a property may be sold.

Closing a property happens when you sign the paperwork that makes the house yours, but a long list of events must transpire before that fateful day arrives.

Understanding the needed stages to a real estate closing may make you a better-educated buyer or seller and help the process go smoothly whether you're ready to purchase or sell a house for the first time.

This article outlines the processes that must be performed between the time you submit your offer and the time you receive the keys to your new house.



What is a Real Estate Closing?

A real estate closing is the legal procedure that helps transfer ownership and interest in a property from the previous owner to the buyer and occurs when both parties have finalized a real estate contract.

A real estate closing can take as little as a few weeks or as long as 60 days, depending on the terms of the contract, the kind of financing used, and whether or not any concerns are identified throughout the closing process.

Many phases of a real estate closing occur at the same time, which is why having a real estate agent to help move the process forward and coordinate with the many parties involved in the transaction is beneficial.

Some states utilize a title company to close real estate transactions, while others rely entirely on a real estate attorney. So, while the specific process for a real estate closing varies by state, these are the nine main phases of a real estate closing.



9 Steps to Real Estate Closing

1. Open an escrow account

As a result, bringing in a neutral third party is the best method to avoid either the vendor or the buyer from being scammed. This third party can keep all of the transaction's money and documentation until everything is finalized.

A third party holds an escrow account on behalf of the buyer and seller. A property sale has several stages that must be completed over several weeks.

Once all procedural procedures have been completed, the funds and papers are transferred from the escrow account to the seller and buyer, ensuring a safe transaction.

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2. Conduct a title search and order title insurance

A title search is an investigation of public documents to establish and confirm the legal ownership of a property and to determine what claims, if any, exist on the property. If there are any claims, they may need to be settled before the buyer may take possession of the property.

Title insurance is an indemnity insurance that protects the policyholder from financial loss caused by faults in a property's title. It safeguards property owners and lenders from loss or harm caused by liens, encumbrances, or title flaws.

A title search and title insurance offer peace of mind as well as legal protection. They make certain that when you acquire a property, no one else can afterward try to claim it.


3. Negotiate closing costs

Everything from creating an escrow account to hiring a real estate attorney costs money. If you're not cautious, these expenses can quickly add up. For example, house and pest inspections are critical to avoid purchasing a property with hidden—and costly—problems. However, many such firms take advantage of users' naivety by imposing junk fees.

Junk fees are costs imposed by a lender at the closing of a mortgage that is frequently unforeseen by the borrower and is not explicitly explained by the lender. These fees might quickly add up to a sizable amount. Administrative costs, application review fees, appraisal review fees, supplementary fees, processing fees, and settlement fees are examples of junk fees.


4. Conduct inspections

Most contracts include an optional inspection period, which usually takes 14 days if chosen. Within this stipulated time, the buyer can view the property and quit the contract without forfeiting their earnest deposit, as well as seek or renegotiate any conditions, repairs, or concessions.

To stay within the inspection period, it is recommended that the buyer or the real estate agent representing the buyer order the necessary inspections as soon as the earnest deposit is received.


5. Request a property insurance quote

After the inspection has been ordered, the next step is to get a price for property insurance. Many insurance carriers will utilize information from the property inspection to build their price or may refuse coverage based on inspection results, so it's critical to shop around for a competitive quote with an insurance agent as soon as your inspection is requested or finished.


6. Get the lender-ordered appraisal (if necessary)

The lender will order an appraisal if the buyer obtains a typical mortgage from a bank or lending institution. The lender will not accept an appraisal ordered by the buyer or seller. The appraisal must come in at or above the contract price. If the appraised value is less than the sales price, the price must be reduced to reflect the appraised value.


7. Renegotiate terms

If anything is discovered during the title search, inspection, or appraisal that significantly alters the original terms of the contract, the buyer can try to renegotiate by extending the closing date, requesting repairs from the seller, or requesting a concession, which is a credit given to the buyer at closing. As long as the buyer exits the contract during the inspection time, the seller can agree to these adjustments or let the buyer terminate the contract without penalty.


8. Conclude on Interest Rate & Choose a closing date and review the paperwork

Interest rates, especially mortgage rates, can be unpredictable and prone to fluctuation. Rates are affected by a variety of factors, including geographic location, property type, loan type sought for, and the applicant's credit score.

It is best to lock in the interest rate for the loan ahead of time if at all feasible. This protects you against market volatility, which might cause interest rates to rise before you complete your property purchase. Even a 0.25% rate increment can considerably raise your monthly payments and the time it takes to pay off your home.

Once the appraisal, inspections, title search, and contract terms have been authorized and finished, the closing agent will work with the buyer, seller, and lender to schedule a closing date (if being used). Prior to the closing, the escrow agent will submit the closing documents to both parties for perusal.

If the buyer is receiving a mortgage, the lender will re-run the buyer's credit and lock in the interest rate for the loan a few days before closing. Once verified, the lender is obliged to provide the buyer a TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) at least three days before closing, which discloses and explains the cost of closing and financing.


9. Conduct final walk-through

Buyers can undertake their last walk-through a day or two before closing to check that no adjustments other than those agreed upon in the contract have been made.


Bonus final steps: Execute closing documents on closing day

Closings can take place in the office of the title company or real estate attorney or, depending on the state, as a mail-away closing, in which paperwork is completed outside of the closing agent's office in the presence of a notary and then mailed back to the closing agent on or before the designated closing day. If the closing is done in person, the buyer and seller will meet on the day of the closure, carrying identification and, of course, closing money.

Because most closing agents employ technology to aid in the closing process, most additional essential papers for closing, such as a trust agreement or operating agreement for an LLC (typically used whether the buyer or seller is a trust or corporation), are in the hands of the closing agent before closing day.

The closing package and documentation might be considered depending on the state and the type of property being sold, and both parties will sign a lot of paperwork. If you don't understand any of the documentation, ask the closing agent or your attorney to explain it to you.

After both parties sign the closing paperwork, the closing agent will register the deed, satisfaction of mortgage from the seller (if applicable), and mortgage (if applicable) in public records for the county in which the property is situated. The buyer is now the owner of a new home and can rekey it if wanted before moving in.

Photo by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash


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