If you’ve ever bought a home or know someone who has bought a home, you have heard of the real estate “closing”. The closing is the culmination of everything in a real estate transaction. It’s where the title, known as a the deed, transfers from seller to purchaser.
So, why do we have the closing? Most people would not just take the buyer’s personal check and hand him or her the deed to the house. First of all, you would want some security that the check was really going to clear, if you were the seller. As the buyer, you would want some reassurance that the deed you’re being given is actually the seller’s to give, and that you’re not getting any “extras” like a tax lien on the property.
Everyone wants to be protected, and this is how the modern real estate closing has evolved. Closings may be held at the title company, or at the Realtor’s office. The title company researches the chain of title to the home. Assuming the title is clear, all inspections are satisfactory, and all contingencies have been met (financing, sale of another residence, survey, etc.), the title company (closing agent) will facilitate the closing by providing an explanation of documents to be signed, collection of and disbursement of funds. The title company also offers a last minute check to make sure that a clear title to the property will be transferred.
The “typical” closing (if there is such a thing) involves the following:
- Review and signing of loan documents. There may be well over 15 documents to sign, including the deed of trust, promissory note, loan application, and settlement statements.
- Exchange of documents between the seller, buyer, Realtor, and title company. These would include a Seller’s Property Disclosure, Bill of Sale, Realtors’ settlement statements, and tax certificate.
- Seller and buyer will need to bring their driver’s license as a form of identification.
- Disbursement of funds. Once all the documents have been signed, dated and notarized, the title company can proceed with the disbursement of funds. The buyer and lender will provide a wire transfer of funds or certified check drawn on a local bank, and cut checks to the seller, seller’s lender (if there’s a payoff), the brokers, the title company, attorneys, and any other bills that would need to be paid out of closing, such as taxes.
You can see that the closing is much more than the buyer handing the seller a check in exchange for the deed. The real estate closing must be handled in a professional way by your Realtor and title company. Their services are well worth the peace of mind knowing that the job has been done right.