using an agent / pricing your home
 marketing your home / closing


After you've accepted an offer on your home there are still a number of things that must be done before you can get your money and move out.  The buyer will undoubtedly request a home inspection by a professional who will determine the condition and integrity of your property. The buyer's mortgage company will send out an appraiser who will determine if your property is worth what the buyer offered. The title company will warranty that there are no encumbrances or liens from unpaid contractors, IRS, or others which place a "cloud" on the title and prevent a transfer of title to the buyer.

Finally, at settlement, also referred to as closing, the transfer of ownership actually takes place between you and the purchaser.  Either you or the buyer may chose to be represented by an attorney, but generally this is not necessary, unless it's the common practice in your area.  If everything has been planned right, settlement should be primarily a big paper pushing and signing ceremony -- with no surprises!

In a few circumstances, an escrow agent prepares the documents and then collects and pays out the various funds. More often, all parties to the transaction, including the lender; buyer, seller, and their attorneys; real estate agents; and someone from the title company will meet with the closing agent to settle the paperwork and exchange monies associated with the deal. 

If the buyer's loan application process went smoothly there should be no surprises at settlement. However, last minute problems may arise. For example, a termite inspection report may be missing or the loan applicant may have forgotten to bring a one-year paid homeowner's insurance policy. Depending on the parties involved, these instances may postpone settlement.

You will be presented with a settlement or closing sheet that reflects all the applicable details of the transaction. The settlement sheet details the amount of money due to and from various parties. You might want to bring along a calculator and add up these charges. Although they are totaled on the settlement sheet, errors may occur. The net you receive (or in some cases pay) should be in the ballpark of the net proceeds calculated by your agent.  It won't be exact however, since not all closing fees are known at the time a sales contract is signed.

Your lawyer or representative will review the documents, explain them to you, and protect your interests.  You'll sign numerous documents and receive copies of them all.  The closing agent will then inform you when a check will be prepared for your proceeds.  Sometimes this can be done the same day.  Typically, however, it takes several days for a check to be prepared, since all the funds necessary to pay off your mortgage and other settlement fees must be disbursed before you are paid.