7 Secrets of A Hassle Free Closing!

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate

 

 

Stress Free ClosingIn 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!

Copyright 2007 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services
Very good information and excellent writing skills! We have closings with the buyer and seller together unless the seller does a mail away closing which happens a lot here in Florida because of second homes and vacation homes. The walk through thing is tough to do here against custom and the seller not usually being agreeable to it. Katerina
Aug 14, 2007 01:00 PM #6
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Hi Missy, This has been a delightful tradition.  It's amazing how many agents have indicated that they have never received a gift from a closing!  We don't include our cards in the chocolates to the other agents buyer though.
Aug 14, 2007 01:21 PM #7
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Katerina, it's always interesting to see how customs differ in various parts of the country.  Walk through are not necessarily the norm here, but when they are conducted they can be disruptive if not handled correctly.
Aug 14, 2007 01:23 PM #8
Rainmaker
707,179
Bill Roberts
Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate - Oceanside, CA
"Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner

Lola, I really feel for you. We don't have to go through any of that trauma here in California.

Bill Roberts

Aug 15, 2007 01:48 PM #9
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Thanks for your comment Bill.  I'm sure every area has it's own peculiar style of potential trauma as it relates to closings.  Fortunately, there is much that can be done to minimize these issues.
Aug 15, 2007 02:37 PM #10
Rainer
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Alan Lacey
Alan Lacey- - Grand Rapids, MI
If I can be as bold as to add a number 8. for the buyside at least....Make sure the lenders closing package was delivered at least 1 day before closing so the HUD is accurate and if it isn't provides the opportunity for any last minute concessions  ( trust me I hate it, but if it is $150 off and the client just doesn't have the money I am not going to jeopardize a relationship for it)
Aug 16, 2007 07:13 AM #11
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Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
As a former title company owner, I have to say this is a wonderful list.  'Wish I'd thought to put it out myself a few years ago.
Aug 16, 2007 08:31 AM #12
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Hi Alan, Thanks for your insight.  In some cases the only way you can ensure that the lender's closing package arrives on time is if you are working with a lender who processes in a timely fashion or when at attorneys packet is required.  Unfortunately, too many closings have paperwork arriving several hours before the closing which gives Realtors® the numbers very late indeed.
Aug 16, 2007 11:36 AM #13
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Hi Margaret,  Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.
Aug 16, 2007 11:37 AM #14
Rainer
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Alan Lacey
Alan Lacey- - Grand Rapids, MI
I certainly agree my problem is those often seem to be mortgage brokers. It is that perception which makes it a tad more difficult for mortgage brokers who understand the purchase transaction to pry business away from the big direct lenders. Anyone who reads this I PROMISE WE ARENT ALL LIKE THAT.
Aug 17, 2007 05:48 AM #15
Rainer
226,996
Ed Vogt
Midwest Properties of Michigan - Grandville, MI
Grandville, MI Midwest Properties
Hi Lola - these are all excellent points and good reminders since the closing should always go smoothly.  Your no. 1 point is just common sense, but like they say - common sense isn't so common :)
Aug 17, 2007 08:51 AM #16
Rainer
78,168
David Slavin
Keller Williams Premier - Katy, TX
CDPE, ABR, SRES Keller Williams Premier
Great post!  Thanks for the reminders of each of our duties.
Aug 17, 2007 09:09 AM #17
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

You're right Alan.  There are many excellent mortgage professionals who do their jobs.  We work with several of them. 

Hi Ed, Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.  It is sadly deplorable but true..."common sense ain't common."

Thanks for you comment David.

Aug 17, 2007 09:35 AM #18
Rainer
48,229
Ethan Dozeman
Realty Executives Platinum Group - Grand Rapids, MI
Real Estate in Grand Rapids
I like your list of the 7 secrets for a hassle free closing, That should almost be put into a listing package so sellers can appreciate the work that goes into making the closing happen.  I enjoy reading yoru articles!!!
Aug 20, 2007 02:49 PM #19
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Hi Ethan,  Thanks for stopping by to visit and comment.  Articles that I write on my blog are copyrighted and are available to agents associated with our office for use in their marketing materials. I'm glad that you enjoy reading.  We are finding a good response from our clients who read these articles as well.
Aug 20, 2007 02:54 PM #20
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Excellent point Eric.  Communication with the real estate agent is important to ensure that everyone is on the same page.  The lenders we work with regard the closing date as the goal for the transaction and usually close on or before the date indicated.  Using guidelines such as those you have suggested would facilitate a hassle free process for most transactions.
Aug 20, 2007 04:02 PM #22
Rainmaker
111,050
Nancy Brenner
Referral Associates of Georgia, Inc. - Roswell, GA
Roswell Georgia Real Estate Agent
Thanks for the reminders.  I've bookmarked this to revisit in the future.
Aug 20, 2007 09:39 PM #23
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Hi Nancy, I'm glad you found this helpful.  Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Aug 21, 2007 11:47 PM #24
Rainmaker
281,679
Mike Mitchell
Real Living Kee Realty - Saint Clair Shores, MI
REALTOR (R)
Wonderful post Lola! Good information for everyone.
Aug 22, 2007 02:12 PM #25
Rainmaker
387,816
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!
Hi Mike, Thanks for stopping by to read and for your comment.
Aug 22, 2007 04:04 PM #26
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