How Do I Prepare For My Real Estate Closing?

Mortgage and Lending with First Heritage Mortgage NMLS #: 938761

I remember closing on my first home very well–I wasn’t in the mortgage business at the time and my husband handled most of the details.  A few days before–being the anxious person that I am–I began hounding him with loads of questions:  Where are we going? How much money do we need? How do we get a check that big?  What forms of ID do we need?  Do we get to move in that day?  Who will be there?  Who do we make the check out to?

As a mortgage lender, my job is to anticipate all of your questions and pro-actively answer these questions so you aren’t scrambling around at the last minute trying to figure out where to go and what to bring.  For that reason, the week before closing I send an email to my borrowers with a list of frequently asked questions and answers.  (I can’t take full credit for this idea–I may have stolen it from my manager Greg Cowart, so I have to give him a shout-out here.)

I’ve adapted the email to a more generic version for this blog post.  If you are closing on a home soon, this is a great read for you.


When do I get the final cash to close figure?

Your loan officer should have provided you with an estimate of the final numbers at your initial loan application. That number will be very close to the amount you will need at closing. Your mortgage company has to work with the settlement agent to arrive at the exact final figure. The settlement agent/attorney has the job of collecting figures from the mortgage company and your Realtor and consolidating them on the settlement statement (known as the HUD). Generally the settlement agent will send you the final HUD on the day of or days prior to your closing.  Sometimes, you will know the number a week or two in advance–it just depends on when your loan is final approved and how busy the closing departments are at the time.

When should I get the final check I need for the closing?

I recommend you get the certified/bank check on your way to closing. You will know the exact figure and you only have to make one trip to knock out the check and the closing. You can stop by your local branch and it should only take about 10 minutes to get a certified check. If you can’t get the certified check the day of closing and you don’t have the final HUD yet, use the initial estimate your loan officer provided for a final number. If it is too high, the settlement agent will issue you a small check. If it is too low, the settlement agent accepts a small personal check for the difference.  Also, some settlement agencies prefer that you wire the funds to them–if this is the case, they will give you wiring instructions before the day of closing.

Who do I make the certified/bank check out to?

The check is payable to the attorney or settlement agent who is handling the closing. Their name will be listed on the HUD. 

What should I bring to closing?

You will need your driver’s license and your certified/bank check.  

Where and when will my closing take place?

Closing usually takes place at the attorney or settlement company’s office.  Contact your settlement agent or attorney and set up an appointment for your closing if they haven’t already contacted you.  Your Realtor may also be handling this for you.

What happens at the closing and how long does it take?

You will sign the same forms that you signed at loan application plus a few additional documents like the deed to the house. Your attorney/settlement agent will go over all of these forms with you. Closing usually takes 30 minutes to 1 hour.  If you read all of the forms and ask a ton of questions, you could be there for days.  (The last sentence was just for the blog–it’s not emailed to my clients.)

Who will be at closing?

Your Realtor and the attorney/settlement agent will be at closing.  Sometimes your loan officer is there as well, but not usually. 

Who do I contact with questions about the HUD/Final Numbers?

You will want to start by contacting the settlement agent/attorney. HUDs are confusing and you will go over it in detail at the actual closing.  If the numbers look very different from the estimate your loan officer gave you initially, give him or her a call to ask why.  

Originally published at Loan Officer Lately.

Comments (6)

Robert Smith
Preview Properties, PC - - Brighton, MI
SRES, Search for Homes Brighton-Howell-SE Michigan

Excellent post, Whitney Watson. Even when explained to buyers, they often 'forget' parts of the process or are too distracted for it to stick. This electronic, or a printed page, should be helpful.

Feb 26, 2015 11:05 PM
Bill Kennedy
Keller Williams Greenville Upstate - Greenville, SC
Homes For Sale Greenville SC

Great post! Thanks for sharing!

Feb 26, 2015 11:26 PM
Rob Marken
Bend River Realty - Bend, OR
25+ years experience in Bend

Great information for what occurs during closing. I think this is great information for first time home buyers. Thanks for sharing. 

Feb 27, 2015 12:18 AM
Whitney Watson
First Heritage Mortgage - Henrico, VA

Thank you,  Robert Smith!  You are right--buyers have a lot of time to forget everything we tell them at the beginning, so sending this out a week before closing has been very helpful for my business.

Feb 27, 2015 12:23 AM
Whitney Watson
First Heritage Mortgage - Henrico, VA

Thank you,  Bill Kennedy!  Feel free to share with your clients!  Rob Marken my father-in-law retired to Bend about five years ago from Florida and we visit there twice a year.  Love it so much!  He lives on Awbrey Butte. 

Feb 27, 2015 12:25 AM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Whitney ... VB has been without Internet service for 2 months now so I have been away from featuring posts at my groups. Your post has been featured to the group:


Apr 21, 2015 02:00 PM