In a real estate transaction, the cauldron of stress boiling just beneath the surface can create circumstances that can turn a memorable moment into a messy nightmare. Every real estate agent who has done a number of transactions can recollect at least one horrendous closing.
I recall one closing in which the seller was so stressed out about his daughter's wedding that he literally walked out of the closing office, declaring that he was not going to sign any paperwork! He was later placated with a closing done just for him at his home in the company of a notary.
Stressful closings, in addition to being uncomfortable, are often a waste of time. Arguments, delays, and all manner of sundry last minute issues are unnecessary distractions for an event which should be the culmination of a happy event in the lives of sellers and buyers.
There are a few simply things that can be done to alleviate a lot of angst. Paying careful attention to these details can dial down the stress meter many levels and ensure that you leave the closing table in smiles not tears.
1. Make Sure all Agreements are signed PRIOR to getting to the closing!
It is amazing how often sloppy work creates unnecessary hassles. Verbal agreements are NOT binding in a real estate transaction. If an agreement has been made, get it in writing BEFORE you reach the closing table. The closing table is not the forum to open up fresh negotiations or to clear up misconceptions. Leaving loose ends hanging on the contract because all signatures were not obtained can be a recipe for misunderstanding and potential disaster.
2. Make Sure the Terms of Your Contract Are Clear...To You!
A poorly written contract can create untold grief. It is important that every element of the contract is clear and understandable. One of the problems with faxes is that they can be difficult to read. However, faxes are legal tender in many states. If there is a distortion on a legal document which makes it difficult to read...write out a the wording on an e-mail or separate fax so there is no confusion about the terms that are being agreed on. The closing table is NOT the place to begin to decipher hieroglyphics. It's a lost art anyway!
3. Do a Walk Through 72 Hours Prior to your Closing!
I have seen many contracts schedule a walk-through 24 hours prior to a closing. The rational being that they want to make sure that the home is in order. But...what happens if you find out things are not in order? 24 hours is very little time to request that a condition be corrected. Pushing the scheduled walk through back 3-4 days ensures that if there is an issue, there is time for the situation to be addressed. Negotiations can be entered into which can result in a solution. Although the stress levels will still be elevated, this is a whole lot better than trying to produce a miracle at the 11th hour!
4. Have Documents Needed for the Closing Handy!
Closing documentation differs from transaction to transaction. While it is standard to be required to bring a form of identification like a drivers' license and proof of insurance if you are a buyer, there are some other items which may be required as documentation for certain situations. If there has been a death or divorce, original certified documents will be required. An unrecorded deed may also need to be produced in a format suitable for recording. Bills which have been paid may have to to shown as proof of payment. Be sure to ask your real estate agent to check with the the closing officer to determine exactly what items will be necessary for your closing.
5. Review the Numbers!
At the time of an offer presentation, Audu Real Estate presents a signed copy of the seller's expected disbursements. When a copy of the HUD Closing statement is faxed to our attention, it is carefully compared to the statement prepared when the home was SOLD. Because the Seller has seen this document in advance, the charges on the HUD statement have a degree of familiarity. Reviewing a Closing Statement prior to sitting down at the Closing Table relieves a lot of stress and confusion. If you think this might be an issue, you can ask in advance for an Attorney's Packet. This request will ensure that your numbers are released expeditiously as all parties are notified that you will be having your legal counsellor review the documents and time will be needed to facilitate this.
6. Avoid Unnecessary Fights about Where to Close!
Sometimes the Closing Location becomes a hostage center. Sellers and buyers are held hostage to competing demands between real estate agents about where the closing is going to be held. As a home owner or home purchaser, YOU ultimately have the right to decide where you want to hold your closing. It will often be convenient to use a location or company suggested by your real estate agent as this is not a service you subscribe to frequently. But ask...if you are not told if your agent is in partnership with a title company and if they are guaranteeing you the best rates. This should be the basis of where you close and there is NO law that says your closing has to occur where the other parties closing is occurring. Settle this early in the transaction process. Avoid unnecessary stress.
7. Get a Good Night's Sleep and Arrive A Little Early!
These two issues may seem a little trivial, but they can make a big difference in enjoying or being overwhelmed at a closing. Keep in mind that during a closing, you may be looking at a mountain of unfamiliar paperwork. A clear head which is aided by a good nights sleep will keep the "fog" away and aid in understanding the explanation given by the escrow officer. Giving yourself a little extra time to find an unfamiliar location also greatly reduces tension.
Following these 7 Simple Guidelines will go a long way to alleviating the stress of a Closing. A Closing on a New Home should be a Happy Event...the fulfillment of the American Dream. At Audu Real Estate, we honor a long standing Tradition. When we close on a home that we have Sold, we give all the parties a box of Godiva Chocolates. After all an event this momentous calls for a little bit of sweetness don't you think!
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