The big day is finally here. And I'm providing the check list to make sure that you are totally ready:
If you cannot be physically present, let the settlement office know far enough ahead of time so they can accommodate you. They will either email or express all of the papers to you with instructions on what to fill out and which papers need to be notarized, then you can overnight them back. They can also arrange for a power of attorney to a spouse or trusted friend, and your trusted Realtor is not the best choice here. Most of us will not sign for a client.
- Call the local utilities to set up your service (Pepco 202-833-7500, Washington Gas 703-750-1400, and whichever phone company you plan to use. Comcast, my personal favorite, is 1-703-750-1400). They often will not arrange for new service until the seller calls to disconnect.
- Find out from your lender and the settlement office how much money you will need to bring to the table. They can give you an approximate amount. You will need to arrange to bring certified funds or have your bank wire the funds to your settlement office's account before settlement. If the amount is incorrect, you can write a personal check for the difference or you will get a refund.
- Be sure that you bring along some government issued photo ID. A driver's license or passport will do.
- There will be dozens of pages of documents for you to sign, and if you are a "reader", you should arrange to get the documents the day before, if possible. Otherwise, show up an hour or two ahead of time so you can go over everything and get any questions you may have answered.
If there are going to be any unresolved contentious issues (there sometimes are), you might want to bring an attorney with you. It's unusual to have issues that can't be worked out before everyone arrives for settlement, but somethimes there are property condition issues or other problems that come up at the last minute.
Remember, the attorney performing your settlement does not represent you, even though you are paying most of his fees. He represents the transaction. His job is to get all of the necessary papers signed by both parties, and to collect and distribute all of the funds needed to pay off the seller's mortgage and other leins and give them the rest of the purchase funds (assuming they are walking away from the table without writing a check to pay off their mortgage or selling on a short sale).
Then you get the keys, and there are hugs and best wishes. The house is yours! Start planning your housewarming party!