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Discovering that an offer on the home of your dreams has been accepted is the most exciting part of homeownership, especially for first-time homebuyers. After viewing any number of homes and going through all of the steps to get approved and secure your loan, by the time you’re ready to close the finish line is in sight. Closing is the final step before you receive the keys to the place that you’ll call home, and the closing date is the day that you officially and legally become the owner. If you’ve never purchased a home before, you may be wondering what to expect when that big day rolls around. Having an idea of what will happen at closing will make you all the more prepared, ensuring it goes as smoothly as possible.

Setting a Closing Date

Part of the contract negotiation process includes the buyer and seller agreeing on a closing date, and that date is written on the purchase agreement contract. Once the seller accepts the buyer’s offer and earnest deposit there will typically be a bit of a wait before the closing date rolls around. During that time, the buyer’s agents may go back and forth with your lender and title agency to work out a timeframe that allows for proper execution of all of the paperwork and legal work on their end. It’s not uncommon for a closing date to get pushed, sometimes weeks or months beyond the time at which the buyer’s offer has been accepted.

Preparing to Close

The first step for the buyer in preparing to close is wrangling up a team of experienced professionals to make sure every angle is covered. In addition to working with a real estate agent, the buyer will want to enlist the services of other team members, including a mortgage professional, escrow officer, attorney, home inspector, and title insurance agent.

The buyer’s team of experts will each perform a critical role in reviewing the contract and preparing for closing contingencies. Closing contingencies include a home inspection, appraisal, loan documents, homeowner’s insurance, and a final walkthrough, and issues during any of these steps can cause the deal to be delayed or come to a halt entirely. The buyer’s team is responsible for ensuring that the buyer is making a secure purchase.

Closing Time Frame

While new homebuyers are likely chomping at the bit to move into their new home, closing tends to take time. On average, closing happens between one to two months after an offer is accepted. This time frame can be influenced by the month and season, especially during peak homebuying periods. If the closing process takes a while, it’s not because there’s anything out of the ordinary going on; most home transactions experience some sort of delay or issue before closing. Buyers need not worry if there are a few bumps along the way.

The Cost of Closing

Buyers should be prepared to pay closing costs on their new home. Closing costs are fees charged by third parties that are involved in the purchase of a piece of real estate. These charges typically include fees for appraisal, home inspection, homeowner’s insurance, credit reports, and attorney expenses, among others. Most homebuyers can anticipate that closing costs will be between three and four percent of the purchase price of the new property.

When Closing Day Arrives

With preparation, buyers can ensure that closing day goes off without a hitch. First and foremost, buyers should bring a photo ID, any relevant documents for the title company or mortgage loan officer, and a certified or cashier’s check for closing costs to their closing appointment, which usually takes place at the office of the escrowee. During that appointment, buyers will pay any outstanding closing costs, and then the seller will sign the necessary documents for transferring the ownership of the property. Finally, the buyer will sign a settlement statement, mortgage note, and deed of trust securing the mortgage note. Once those steps have been completed, the title company will register the new deed in the buyer’s name.

Moving In

In many cases, buyers are able to move into their new home immediately after the closing appointment. Sometimes a seller will ask to stay in the house after closing for a short period of time, but those details will be worked out well in advance. Most of the time, closing day means the beginning of a new chapter in a new home.

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