If you ask most people about the closing process on their residential real estate property, they may tell you that they let their attorney worry about those details. While you do hire an experienced attorney for the purpose of giving you advice and guidance on the closing process, the buyer or seller still has plenty of responsibilities when it comes to making the closing as smooth as possible.
At least one week before closing, you should make a meeting with your attorney to discuss the details. Even though you rightfully put your trust in your attorney, you still need to know what is required of you at closing if you want to avoid surprises and get the process done properly.
Most buyers know they will have closing costs and that those closing costs can usually be rolled into the mortgage for convenience. But it pays to know what your closing costs are, be prepared to negotiate some of those costs, and perhaps even consider paying for the costs out of your pocket.
Some of the fees that most people never expect include document preparation fees, courier fees, and a subject simply called miscellaneous fees. Ask your attorney for those fees in advance, and then see if you can do anything about getting them lowered. You should also learn exactly how much your fees will be and try to pay them out of your pocket at closing to lower the overall cost of your mortgage.
Each state deals with property taxes different at real estate closings, and you need to know what you are paying to make sure you are not getting overcharged. Once again, the real estate taxes you owe are often lumped in with your mortgage and increase your overall cost of ownership. If you can pay your property tax bill out of your own pocket, then that would be preferable to allowing those taxes to gain interest over the term of your loan.
The transitioning of utilities from seller to buyer is not really a part of the closing, but it is still a critical part of taking ownership of a property. You may want to work out an agreement with the seller to transfer utilities to your name a day or two prior to the closing date to make sure that the heat is on when you walk into your new home for the first time.
Your attorney will make sure that all of the official loan and title paperwork is ready to go, but that is not the only concern you will have. Are there any papers you need to bring to closing that you have not accumulated yet? Does the bank want to see one more income statement before releasing the check just to be sure? When you meet with your attorney, be sure to discuss every detail and every piece of paper that will be required at closing to make sure everything is in order.
Most people step aside for a real estate closing and let their attorney do the work. While this is a smart approach, it can also be an incomplete method as well. Work with your attorney to make sure that all of your paperwork is in order and that you do understand what is expected of you at closing.