We in the industry often forget that a lot of people are new to the closing process. It is with that thought in mind that i write this. I will start at the beginng, with a buyer finding a house.
When the buyer finds a house they like, the first step is to put in an offer. It is important that the offer be as specific as possible. Some courts have held that an offer that is accepted is binding even without a purchase and sales agreement.
If the offer is accepted, the next step is a purchase and sales agreement. often times this will be put together by one on the Realtors. You may, howevr, have an attorney draft the purchase and sales agreement for you.
Once the purchase and sales agreement is siigned, the clock starts to tick. If inspections are authorized by the purchase and sales agreement, there is a limited time to get them done. Also, if the deal is contingent on your obtaining financing, there is a timeline there as well.
As part of the mortgage approval process, the home will be appraised and a request for title examination will be sent to a title attorney. The appraisal will come back with the value of the home and the title attorney will issue a commitment to issue title insurance subject to whatever liens are on the property. In most cases that will be a mortgage or two that will be discharged so the buyer takes the property subject only to the new mortgage.
Final water, sewer and tax information will be obtained. This is to make adjustments so that the seller pays these costs up to the closing date and the buyer assumes these costs thereafter.
The last step is the closing. The closing attorney (can be the same as the title attorney but may be different) explains the documents to the seller and the buyer. The seller usually goes first as they only have a few documents to sign and they are then allowed to leave.
That is the process for a typical closing. Of course, each deal is diferent and is you have any specific questions you should contact an attorney.