Once you have accepted a buyer’s offer on your home, it can feel as if you’re over a finish line. In a sense, of course, that is true, but the complicated steps of the closing process still lie ahead. Being informed and prepared will help it go smoothly. There are some major steps and important details to remember.
The buyer will schedule a home inspection. Inspectors check structural and safety issues but ignore cosmetic hiccups; dated wallpaper is not on their radar. What an inspector looks for and at does include: leaning/sagging/gaps anywhere in the house, age and condition of the roof, leaks of any type and resulting mold, faulty wiring or electrical not meeting code, asbestos, condition of chimneys, any types of cracks, drainage issues, and working smoke detectors.=
The inspection can lead to renegotiation of the contract and/or house price. A poor inspection might even make your buyer back out. Sellers and their realtors should address serious problems, such as foundation cracks or mold, before listing. Smart sellers will have the house quite clean and in generally good repair before the inspection, to make the best impression.
Some sellers choose to have an inspection done before listing. It can guide your repair plan, minimize later surprises, and give sellers a “second opinion” if contract renegotiation occurs. But anything a seller’s inspector finds must be disclosed to the buyer, and there is no guarantee the two inspections will agree. Consult your realtor on this option.
Tasks Before Closing
Once the closing is scheduled, there are a few house tasks for the seller. Do a last thorough cleaning. Create goodwill by also doing surface repairs, such as erasing scuff marks, spackling holes, and touching up paint.
For the new owners, leave: extra keys with labels, appliance manuals/warranties/maintenance records, your contact list of vendors who have serviced the house, and any other helpful documents.
Shut off any valves that will protect the home from flooding or other damage. But it is not wise to shut off utilities or cancel insurance until after the closing.
You will receive a detailed Settlement Agreement just before the closing date. Read it carefully, noting anything incorrect or any questions you may have.
At the Closing
Arrive at the closing with a photo ID, pen, the deed if applicable, the main keys and/or codes for entrance, and documentation of repairs you agreed to undertake for the buyer.
Depending on the profit, if any, you will receive that day, have a cashier’s check to pay what you may owe, including the mortgage balance, your realtor’s commission, property taxes/utility bills/HOA fees, and title or escrow fees. Ask your realtor to clarify what you will need to pay that day.
Good information and organization will keep things moving forward.