a house is an emotional journey ó from finding the
perfect property to securing the ideal price. The last
thing anyone wants to endure is a real estate closing
that resembles a roller-coaster ride.
goal of a good settlement is where the buyers and
sellers get to meet, sign papers, hand off keys and
trade information about the neighborhood," says
Realtor Dianne Hansen of Fairfax, Va. "When done
well, itís a nice moment between buyer and
who wouldnít want that?
share their tips for a smooth closing:
Get preapproved for a loan
with a lender to secure financing ahead of time not only
helps determine what you can afford, but it also helps
unearth any speed bumps that might impact your chances
of closing on a property.
seen buyers go out looking, and the first day they fall
in love with a home," says Realtor Ed Huck of Ed
Huck Team in Westlake, Ohio. "They need to make an
offer, but they miss out because the home sells while
theyíre getting preapproved or they lose the home in a
multiple-offer situation because the other buyer is
Listen to your lender
a house involves a mountain of paperwork, so be
prepared. And just when you think youíre done
submitting the last forms, the bank will undoubtedly
want something more.
to lender requests promptly," says Realtor Colleen
Malone of Moxie Realty in Portland, Ore. "And by
promptly, I mean within hours, not days. If the lender
needs a pay stub or a tax statement ó even if you
think youíve already given it to them ó just get it
to them again ASAP."
agrees, and says because of todayís tight lending
guidelines, lenders are asking for more documentation
than ever before. "Many of our transactions are not
closing on time because underwriters, at the lender, are
asking for updated documentation just days before the
scheduled closing," he says.
Ask questions and review documents
be afraid to ask questions of your Realtor, title
company, attorney or lender, and be sure to read through
the documentation detailing the sale.
a buyer, you have a legal right to obtain the HUD-1
settlement statement (which outlines all of the costs
for both the buyer and seller) at least 24 hours in
advance of closing.
ask questions, and ask again if you still have
questions," Hansen says. "Understand title
insurance. Itís not required, but should you have a
title issue, the lawyer fees can be impressive."
closing, a title professional will examine the history
of the homeís ownership to resolve any issues, but
problems may still arise (for instance if the previous
owner failed to pay taxes or if thereís an outstanding
judgment on the property). Title insurance will pay for
your court costs if anyone challenges your title, and it
will pay for your equity if you lose.
Double-check the property
should be proactive on any agreed-upon repairs, but as a
buyer, try to schedule a walk-through of the property a
few days before closing. That way, thereís still time
to address any issues that arenít resolved. It also
wonít hurt to drive by the house on your way to sign
the closing papers ó just to make sure there hasnít
been a flood or fire.
if you want to pay for a survey," Hansen suggests.
"I recommend one, especially on single-family
homes. If thereís a fence on your property, this is
the way to find out about (property line) issues ahead
of time, because after settlement it becomes your
agree: Be flexible, be responsive, and above all, remain
lender will ask you for all sorts of last-minute details
ó verified, of course," Hansen says. "Even
the most qualified of buyers have to meet audit
standards. Donít take it personally; sometimes things
come up last minute. Stay calm, and keep your eye on the