Guide to Closing a Real Estate Deal

Closing a real estate deal, signing the papers to make a home yours, can be stressful and long and it involves many steps and procedural formalities. Many things must happen before you arrive at the closing. Here are a few important guidelines that need to happen between the moment your offer is accepted to the moment you get the keys to your new home.

Open an Escrow Agreement

An escrow account can be held by a neutral third party on behalf of the two principal parties involved in the transaction. They will hold all the money and documents related to the transaction until all is settled. A contract or escrow agreement is drafted, which the closing agent reviews for completeness and accuracy.

Title Search is Conducted and Title Insurance is Obtained

Once the title order is placed, the title company conducts a search of the public records. This should identify any issues with the title such as liens against the property, utility easements, and so on.  If a problem is discovered, most often the title agency will take care of it without you even knowing about it. After the title search is complete, the title company can provide a title insurance policy.

There are two kinds of title insurance coverage: a Lender’s policy, which covers the lender for the amount of the mortgage loan; and an Owner’s policy, which covers the homebuyer for the amount of the purchase price. If you are obtaining a loan, the bank or lender will typically require that you purchase a Lender’s policy. However, it only protects the lender.

It is always recommended that you obtain an Owner’s policy to protect your investment. The party that pays for the Owner’s policy varies from state to state, so ask your settlement agent for guidance before closing.

Obtain a Closing Disclosure

Your lender must provide a Closing Disclosure to you at least three days prior to closing. Your lender may also have a closing agent provide the Closing Disclosure to you three days before you close your transaction.

If you or your lender makes significant changes between the time the Closing Disclosure form is given to you and the closing, you must be provided a new form and an additional three-business-day waiting period after receipt of the new form.

If the changes are less significant, they can be disclosed on a revised Closing Disclosure form provided to you at or before closing, without delaying the closing.

Be Ready to Close

As the closing day approaches, your agent will order any updated information that may be required. Once the agent has confirmed with the lender and the seller, a final date, time and location of the closing will be set.

On the day of the closing, all the work is complete. You are clear to close. A good Realtor will have been managing and making sure all the paperwork is done and getting the closing process prepared for you.

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Selling A Home in January

Unfortunately, many people assume incorrectly that homes do not sell in the winter. Spring wins as people believe it is the best time to sell, but a good realtor will tell a seller that putting their home on the market in January to beat the competition.  After the holidays, people are back at work and looking online for their next move, and with the mindset of so many sellers to wait until Spring, the home on the market in January will have less competition. 

Real Estate becomes flooded come spring and summer and is dominated by high supply and high demand, meaning a home becomes one of the many for sale. Think about selling in a period of high demand but low supply, and being one of the few and standing out from the crowd and with less risk of getting lost in a market overload in the Spring. 

Redfin, a real estate organization, took a look a home sales from 2010 through 2014 to determine how well homes sold based on the season. The findings were surprising for many people, because they went against the standard assumption that winter was a time to avoid trying to sell a home. They found that, indeed, homes did sell best in spring, but only by a small margin. The next best time to sell a home turned out to be winter, followed by summer and then fall. Winter home sales were only one percentage point lower than the figures for spring, with summer trailing quite a bit behind.

The buyers are more serious in the cold, dark months of January and February. It’s not so hard to go house hunting in the beautiful months in Spring and Summer, but to go out in the frigid temps to look at homes means that buyer is motivated. 

January is the most popular month for corporate transfers. People who are transferring for work are highly motivated buyers and are limited to the time they can spend looking for a house. Take advantage of this situation, especially if living in an area with corporate headquarters, or major employers. 

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