As Published in the Savannah Morning News - 16 December 2012
BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!
Closing day is here! It’s been a long journey from receiving an offer to going to the closing, and I’ll bet you never thought you would get to this point. So, what happens next?
All parties will meet at the closing attorney’s office, at a time that works for the Buyer(s), Seller(s), the attorney(s), and the Realtor®(s) to attend. Both the Buyers and Sellers must bring to closing a photo ID, which will be photocopied and included in the closing documents.
In the case where either the Buyer(s) or Seller(s) cannot attend closing at the designated date and time, they can separately arrange to sign closing documents prior to the closing. If one or both of the parties live out of town, the documents can be over-night shipped to either party for signatures, and then the documents are shipped back prior to closing. This is called a “mail-away” closing. When disbursement occurs, a check is either mailed to the mail-away Seller, or monies may be wired into their pre-designated account.
At or prior to closing, the Buyer must present a certified check or money order, or wire the necessary funds to the attorney’s escrow account in the amount designated on the Settlement Statement. All parties should have had time to review the Settlement Statement prior to closing, so there should be no surprises.
Sellers, be prepared to bring all keys to the property and turn them over to the closing attorney or the Buyer at the conclusion of the transaction. You may also include garage door openers, and any original documents that you would like the Buyer to have (the survey, blueprints, termite warranty, etc.). These may also be left in a conspicuous place in the house, such as the kitchen counter. The Seller should also leave all appliance warranties and repair bills for items still under warranty in the house.
When you arrive at the attorney’s office, you will be led to a conference room. Generally, the Buyer and Buyer’s Realtor® will sit on one side of the table, and the Seller and Seller’s Realtor ® will sit on the other side, with the attorney at the head of the table. If the Buyer is obtaining a loan, the closing will take about an hour; otherwise, it will be shorter. Loan documents are quite voluminous, and signing those documents consumes most of the time at closing.
When there is a loan involved, the parties will be asked to sign an affidavit that there are no outside agreements other than what is being signed at the closing table. This protects the lender from giving a loan to a person that does not qualify for a higher purchase price. It is considered mortgage fraud to have outside agreements, other than possibly a Bill of Sale for the purchase of furniture, or a separate purchase of something like a boat, car or golf cart.
If all issues have been ironed out prior to the closing, this event should be smooth sailing. If there is a loan involved, a funding number will be issued by the lender to the attorney prior to checks being cut. Beware: if closing takes place too late in the day, the lender may not issue the funding number until the next day, which means everyone goes home without disbursement of funds. Sellers usually do not want Buyers to move into their property unless they have been paid, so this is not a good thing for either party.
For both Buyers and Sellers, it is to your advantage to close in the morning, and I never recommend a Friday closing. If issues arise, or funding does not happen for any reason, you lose 3 days over the weekend without disbursement. And, if you have a moving van full of furniture and you are planning on moving in over the weekend, Monday will seem a long way off.
Let’s assume it all goes well, and funding occurs at closing. It is now time to celebrate and break out the champagne! Congratulations are now in order!
Next week, we will discuss what happens if your closing (Heavens to Betsy!) doesn’t close. Stay tuned!