With all the online research (and way too much time in a car with your real estate agent) buying a new house may seem like an endless voyage. But when you reach the settlement table you're finally in the "home" stretch. Pun intended. Learn what to expect when you attend the closing on your new home.
Closing on Your Home
What it's all about
Your closing (or settlement) is where you sign your life away and get the keys to your new place. (The house you found on HotPads.com, naturally.)
You'll be signing a lot. Some of the documents you'll be presented with are the sales contract, the mortgage paperwork, the deed to the home and the HUD Settlement Statement (which confirms all of the fees and costs involved with the transaction.)
What you'll need to bring
If you are putting money down on the home, you'll need to bring a cashier's check or certified check for the amount owed. You also won't be able to take possession of the home until you can show proof of homeowners insurance. Bring a copy of your insurance declarations page. If you need more information about securing a home insurance policy, visit the HotPads Insurance Center.
It's also important that you bring a copy of the settlement statement that you will be provided before the closing. You'll want to compare this to the actual documents that you will be signing and resolve any discrepancies you find.
Who attends the closing meeting
A real estate settlement can be a very crowded affair, with everyone from the seller, the seller's agent, your mortgage broker, the closing agent, the title insurance representative, and the escrow agent in attendance. If you're lucky, one person will handle all of the closing paperwork. Oh, and you'll be there, too. Better real estate agents will also want to accompany you to the settlement table to make sure everything goes smoothly.
The closing will usually take place at place at a lawyer's office or with the title (AKA escrow) company handling the deal.
Problems and last-minute negotiations
The settlement table is not the place to bring up new concerns with the purchase of the home. That being said, if there are issues that you've not been able to address, by all means mention them. If you learn the morning of that the doorbell is broken, the seller can agree to knock twenty bucks off the selling price. Paperwork can usually be modified on the spot, but in some cases you'll have to reschedule the entire meeting and delay taking ownership of the home.
Be especially careful in doing this because your mortgage interest rate quote has an expiration date. Know when your lock-in period ends, because if the closing does not take place before then you may end up paying more for your mortgage.
Remember, you can still walk away
Buying a home is a big step, and it can be very nerve-wracking. Remember to relax. The seller, real estate agents, title company, mortgage lender and insurance company all want you to close the deal, so you're in control. Make sure that everything is explained to your satisfaction and if not, reschedule the closing and review the terms of the deal once again with your attorney or financial adviser.
Other Buyers Guide Topics
Jump back for the index of articles on taking ownership of your new home.
Other Web Info
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the HUD Settlement Statement (PDF) to see what the individual line items are.