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In real estate, the ‘closing’ is the final step in the home buying and financing process. It generally involves legal forms (and often representatives) from the title insurance and escrow companies, your mortgage lender, your real estate agent, the seller and seller’s real estate agent, and—in some states—both parties’ attorneys. During the closing, you’ll sign various loan and real estate transfer documents as well as pay any outstanding closing costs that you haven’t rolled into your mortgage.

While a smooth closing can take as little 30 minutes, certain circumstances can delay the process by hours or even days. Many—such as errors in documents, missing documents and last-minute lender requests—are out of your control. You can take action to avoid others, however, by taking the proactive steps below.

  1. Ask your agent to stay abreast of the situation. Communication is key as all parties count down the days and hours to closing. Ask your real estate agent to check in with all parties involved at least twice a week. This should help him/her identify potential issues and take action before they become problems.

  1. Touch base with your lender frequently. With so much paperwork required for a mortgage transaction, requested documents may be misplaced and unforeseen underwriting issues sometimes arise. Anytime your lender requests more information from you, submit it as soon as possible to avoid delaying your closing.

  1. Ask to review the closing documents in advance. While you’re allowed to ask questions about the forms you’re signing on closing day, ask your lender and real estate agent to provide you with as many of them as possible in advance. By law, you have the right to review the HUD-1 form (also known as the closing settlement statement) at least 24 hours before your scheduled closing. Look for typos and compare the information on this document to the GFE (or good faith estimate) you received from your lender when you applied for the loan. Address any conflicting or inaccurate information immediately.

  1. Guard against seller surprises. If the seller is selling and buying property simultaneously, a delay in their purchase transaction can derail yours as well. Make sure you have a contingency plan in the event the seller cannot move on the agreed upon date. You should also put a deadline—well in advance of closing—on any necessary repairs. If they haven’t been completed to your satisfaction by the final walkthrough, your closing will be delayed.

  1. Watch your finances. The slightest change in your credit score and/or bank balances can have an effect on your ability to close. Never apply for new credit or make major purchases between applying for a loan, signing the purchase contract, and closing on your home. If you’ve been planning a career move, you should also avoid changing jobs until after closing day.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? The real estate market is hot in most of the country, and low interest rates make it a great time to apply for a loan. Give us a call today to begin the process.


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