House Closing Process for Sellers: What to Expect
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You’ve accepted an offer on your house, signed a purchase agreement, and now you’re waiting to close. Congratulations! But there’s still a list of things you need to do before the closing — when the sale is official, and you hand over the keys to your house in exchange for a check.
Here’s what you need to know about the house closing process for sellers.
How long does the closing process take?
A home closing generally takes 21-45 days, depending on loan type, financing and buyer or seller preferences. A house sale that closes in 30 days means the process was super smooth, with no deal-derailing problems revealed in the inspection and no financial hitches for the buyer.
What happens during the closing process?
Here’s what will happen during the house closing process for sellers in that month or two between accepting an offer and signing the paperwork that makes the sale official.
1. The buyer puts earnest money into escrow.
Earnest money is a cash deposit paid by the buyer to prove they’re serious about buying your home. It typically amounts to 1 to 3 percent of the home’s sale price, and the buyer puts it into a holding account called the escrow. The earnest money is applied to the down payment or the buyer’s portion of the closing costs when the deal goes through.
2. The buyer’s lender begins the loan underwriting process.
Underwriting is the sausage-making part of mortgage approval. It’s when the lender verifies the buyer’s income, assets, debt and size of the loan requested to decide if the buyer is a good credit risk.
3. The title company searches property records.
The buyer’s agent orders a review of public records, called a title search, to make sure you legally own the property and are able to sell it. Think of it as a provenance check for a house.
4. The buyer orders a home inspection.
The buyer hires a professional to make sure there are no problems with the property that affect its value or safety. Not all buyers request an inspection contingency but it is a common stage of the closing process. Some sellers opt to complete a pre-inspection which could cause the buyer to waive this step. Generally, sellers are not present for the buyer’s inspection.
5. The buyer’s lender orders an appraisal.
The lender hires a professional to make sure the property is worth the amount of money it’s loaning the buyer to purchase it. An appraiser will estimate the home’s fair market value based on its features and prices of recently sold comparable homes in the neighborhood. An appraisal coming in low may cause delays in the closing timeline.
6. A final walk-through.
Typically 24 hours before closing, the buyer and his agent will walk through the house one last time to make sure it’s clean, undamaged and emptied of your possessions.
7. Finish the deal by signing paperwork.
This is the official closing day! You sign the house over to the new owner and get your money.
The final step in your house sale will only take about an hour, but you must come prepared. Be sure to write down the date, time and location for your closing. Missing a closing would be like missing your wedding: A no-show is a deal breaker.
Be sure to bring: a government-issued photo ID, house keys, any paperwork your escrow agent or attorney asked for and a checkbook just in case.
You’ll sign a lot fewer legal documents as the seller than you did as a buyer, when you probably got hand cramps from initialing every other page in a four-inch-thick stack of papers. Your signing responsibility will be limited to the closing statement, an affidavit of title, the deed and the bill of sale. Be sure to read everything closely before you sign it. Make sure the information is 100 percent accurate.
What closing costs do I need to be ready for?
As a seller, closing costs can vary depending on the contract. In Georgia, the Seller is usually responsible for broker fees for both the listing broker and selling (buyer's) broker. Refer to your brokerage contract or ask your agent for details.
Other seller costs are outlined in the accepted contract.
If you’re just getting started in your seller journey, know that your agent will be able to help you stay on track during the closing process.