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It's Time to Close on Your Home- Step 8

What Does "Open Escrow" Mean?

"Open escrow" is the period from the buyer's initial deposit in escrow to the clearance for closing the sale. Throughout this phase, various activities occur. The buyer finalizes their loan paperwork, sending it to the escrow company, and this process continues until the sale is concluded.

As the seller, your responsibilities during open escrow include addressing any repairs or modifications agreed upon in the sale contract. Additionally, you should coordinate the transfer of utilities and make necessary arrangements for your move. However, it's crucial not to cancel your home insurance at this stage, as maintaining coverage is important until after the sale is finalized.

The Final Inspection - Walk Through

Before Closing Before the official closing, the buyer conducts a final walk-through as a final check. While not a formal inspection, this walk-through allows the buyer to ensure that all the agreed-upon tasks in the purchase contract have been completed. Unless you've arranged for a delayed possession with the buyer after the sale's closure, this walk-through represents one of the last times you'll be in your home.

Ensure all storage spaces, closets, and bedrooms are empty. Plan for a few days between your move-out date and the final walk-through. Ideally, vacate the property two or three days before the buyer's inspection, providing time for a thorough check of all areas, including closets, the attic, garage, and basement. Assess the condition of floors, door frames, and walls after moving furniture, addressing any scuffs or dents before the walk-through.

Prepare for the walk-through by giving your home a final comprehensive cleaning. If feasible, consider professional cleaning, covering tasks like vacuuming air vents, scrubbing the oven's interior, and shampooing carpets. Ensure no trash is left in the cans, making special arrangements for disposal if needed.

While optional, it's a thoughtful gesture to gather appliance manuals and warranty cards, placing them in one location for the new owner. You may even create a "How-To" guide, offering details about trash collection days, nearby eateries, and areas with poor cell phone reception.

The Closing Paperwork

For those selling a home for the first time, the abundance of paperwork involved in the closing process can be overwhelming. The closing attorney or escrow officer prepares various documents, all of which require your signature and notarization. While the specifics may vary based on the transaction and local laws, here are some common documents you might encounter during the closing:

  1. Certificate of Title: A legal statement affirming your right to sell the property.

  2. Deed: This document transfers the title, known by various names like warranty deed or grant deed. Once signed, ownership is officially transferred.

  3. HUD-1 Settlement Statement: An itemized account of all monetary transactions in the home sale, filled out by both you and the buyer. Review this document thoroughly.

  4. Bill of Sale: An itemized list of transferred ownership items, such as furniture.

  5. Statement of Closing Costs: A description of closing costs with your acknowledgment and agreement.

  6. Statement of Identity/Information: Affirms your identity with a valid photo ID.

  7. Loan Payoff: If any loan balance remains, this statement ensures it will be paid off at closing.

  8. Mechanic’s Lien: Not always included, but it declares that no subcontractor can place a lien on the house due to unpaid bills. It also confirms full payment to anyone involved in past repairs or renovations.

  9. Final Closing Instructions: Instructions from the lender to the closing agent, potentially signed at the contract's opening or close.

Preparing for the Closing While the closing attorney primarily handles the paperwork, your active participation is crucial during the closing. Ensure you arrive with the following items:

  1. The deed to the home (applicable if the home is fully paid off and has no liens).

  2. A government-issued photo ID, such as your driver’s license or passport.

  3. A certified check for the escrow company.

  4. The keys to the home.

Although your paperwork load may be lighter than the buyer's, each document holds significance. Thoroughly review all details and ensure the accuracy of financial transactions. Confirm that the possession date aligns with your plans, and double-check the buyer's loan status to ensure it is funded.

Handing Over the House Keys

Meeting the buyer might not be part of the process. Typically, the final walk-through is conducted with either the buyer's agent or your own agent. As the closing day approaches, you'll need to take the keys to the escrow officer or closing attorney's office. The keys are handed over once all the required paperwork is signed. Given that the buyer's closing time might differ from yours, the keys will be transferred to the new owner after the county registers the deed.

Congratulations on successfully completing the sale of your home! The culmination of efforts, including cleaning, staging, photography, showings, negotiations, and paperwork, has led to this moment.

Hopefully, you're reflecting on the journey and finding it all worthwhile. Best of luck in your new home!



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