So, you’ve finally found your dream home, and you’ve entered into an agreement with the seller. Congratulations!
With the end in sight, now may seem like the perfect time to rest and unwind after the hard work of your real estate search—but not so fast. There’s a reason the average real estate closing takes almost 50 days on average: there’s a lot to do!
Before you let yourself relax, there are a few essential items to take care of. Let’s take a look at the things you’ll need to do before your upcoming closing.
1. Apply for a Loan
Whether you’ve secured pre-approval or not, now is the time to apply for a mortgage loan. This is one of the most important things you’ll want to do before the closing, as nearly half of all closing delays happen because of financing issues!
This will mean doing some research to find the best mortgage lender for your needs. To do this, you’ll need to compare rates as well as any additional fees and requirements. Don’t forget to also lock in your interest rate once you’ve been approved.
2. Hire a Real Estate Attorney
The closing process can be complicated, and having someone look out for your best interests is a great help for most buyers. Even with a helpful closing organizer in hand, buyers often find that the expense of hiring a real estate lawyer pays for itself!
Real estate attorneys can review each of the many contracts and documents involved in the purchase of your home. They can help negotiate on your behalf, watch for elements that could complicate the purchase, and offer peace of mind during any tricky situations you find yourself in moving forward.
3. Get Ready for the Closing Fees
The loan may be the biggest financing issue on your mind, but it’s not the only one. Every real estate closing comes with a host of closing fees, which are payments made to third parties for various services related to the property transfer. These fees can include anything from an appraisal fee to Homeowner's Association fees.
On average, the total will range from 2% and 7% of the home’s purchase price. This, of course, is shared between the buyer and the seller, with the buyer often paying slightly more, usually 3-4%.
4. Examine the Title
Before you move any further into the home closing process, you’ll need to clear the property title. The last thing you want to learn at this point is that the seller doesn’t own or have the right to sell the house! This can happen when relatives or an ex-spouse claim that they, too, are a legal owner of the home.
Working with a title examiner can ensure that no one aside from the seller can claim ownership of the property. As the buyer, you’ll have the opportunity to choose the real estate attorney or title company you partner with. If needed, seek out recommendations from your lender or real estate agent to be sure you’re working with a reputable expert.
5. Do the Home Inspection
At some point during the escrow period, you’ll want to have a professional come out to do a home inspection. Most major lenders require this, but even if yours doesn’t, it’s still a good idea.
This preventative measure can help ensure that there are no issues with the home before the official property transfer. An inspector will look for major problems with the building’s structure, wiring, plumbing, and more—all of which could be costly to fix.
If the home inspection uncovers any previously unknown problems, you can choose whether or not you wish to continue moving forward with the closing. If you decide to move forward, you can negotiate with the seller to have them pay to fix the issues.
6. Have the Home Appraised
Again, this is a service any major lender will require. An appraisal will determine how much money the property is worth, which keeps your lender from loaning you the wrong amount of money. It can also help keep you from overpaying for the loan.
This process is often separate from the home inspection, and you or your real estate agent will need to reach out to an appraiser to set it up.
7. Get Homeowners insurance
Before the home closing is complete, you’ll need to show proof that you’ve taken out a homeowners insurance policy on your new home.
Beyond this requirement, it’s simply a good idea to have a policy in advance. This type of insurance will help cover exterior and interior damage to your home, as well as the loss or theft of your belongings and any injuries that happen on the property.
You have multiple options available to you when it comes to finding the right policy and coverage, so allow yourself plenty of time to research your choices and weigh the pros and cons.
8. Do a Final Walk-Through
This step isn’t to be confused with the home inspection process above. A final walk-through happens in the days leading up to the closing, and both the seller and buyer should be present for it.
During this walk-through, you’ll have one last chance to inspect the property. Take the opportunity to check everything from the big-ticket appliances to the doors and windows. If the status of any part of the property doesn’t mind its agreed-upon condition, you’ll want to bring it up now.
9. Get Ready to Sign
Bring your favorite pen and flex your fingers: you’ll be signing a lot of documents and contracts!
Before you head to the closing table, prepare in advance by grabbing your proof of homeowners’ insurance, your home inspection reports, the paperwork for your home loan, a photo ID, and a copy of your contract with the seller. Your attorney will help guide you through the signing process from there.
Let Us Help Prepare for Your Real Estate Closing
There are few worse things than allowing your dream home to slip through your fingers on a technicality. Following the steps above can help you make the most of your real estate closing process, securing your new property for the future.
If you’re looking for further expert help during your closing, partner with our team! Our experts can help you review your contract, secure title insurance, and much more. Learn more about our services or reach out today for a no-obligation consultation.