What to Bring at Closing: For Sellers, the List Is Short and Sweet

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

Closing is a vastly different experience for homebuyers and home sellers. For buyers, it’s just the beginning: a new start. For sellers, it’s the culmination of a lot of work. Selling a house involves many steps, such as prepping and staging the house, showing it, and negotiating the deal. Closing signifies the end: a time to cash the check and move on.

Buyers must bring a passel of documents and a cashier’s check to closing. They’ll sign numerous documents. Unless you live in a state requiring an attorney to be present at closing, closing documents for sellers are minimal; there’s less to sign.

In this post, we’ll show you what to bring and what you’ll need to sign to close the deal.

Connect with a Top Agent to Sail Through to Closing

Working with a top agent can help you get to closing day faster — and get you more for your home sale. We analyze over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you based on your needs.

What can home sellers expect on closing day?

DISCLAIMER: This post is meant to be used for educational purposes, not financial or legal advice. If you need help with closing documents, HomeLight encourages you to consult your own advisor.

What happens on closing day for the seller? Closing – also known as settlement – officially transfers property ownership from the seller to the buyer. It typically occurs about four to six weeks after signing the purchase agreement.

But even before you get to closing, the seller has a few tasks to complete, such as making agreed-on repairs to the property and producing a title search indicating the title is unencumbered.

On the designated day, all parties meet at a neutral location, such as a title company, escrow company, or mortgage lender. Although the buyer and buyer’s agent are required to attend, the seller may not have to if the listing agent prepared the deed and transfer documents for the seller’s signature ahead of time. It can also be arranged for a seller to sign remotely.

“The seller doesn’t need to be there,” says Tracy van Ravensway, a top-performing real estate agent in Phoenix with 22 years of experience. In Arizona, for example, a title company or notary would have the seller sign closing documents 1-2 days prior to closing. Final documents can be signed remotely and overnighted after being notarized.

A title company representative or loan officer may officiate the closing. Real estate attorneys may accompany the buyer and/or the seller – and in some states, are required to attend closing – but, as van Ravensway emphasizes, only the seller or someone granted power of attorney can sign closing documents.

What do sellers need to bring to closing?

Closing signifies the transfer of ownership of real property. Once the paperwork has been signed, the seller no longer owns the house. Therefore, all accouterments that go with the house need to be surrendered to the buyer.

Sellers should think like Boy Scouts and always be prepared by bringing everything necessary to closing.

What to bring to closing:

1. Keys, codes, and garage door openers to the house

Unless there’s an occupancy agreement in the contract allowing the seller to move out after closing, the seller should bring all keys (front door, back door, garage, storage shed, etc.), passcodes for gates and garage doors, remotes for smart devices controlling house systems, and access information for thermostats, appliances, doorbells, and smart locks.

2. Cashier’s checks for closing costs and repair credits

The seller doesn’t have a lot of expenses at closing but will have to pay the real estate agent’s commission, transfer tax, and possibly credits for repairs, closing costs, or other agreed-upon items. A personal check is generally not accepted for these fees.

3. Personal checkbook

In case of any unexpected incidentals or incorrectly calculated costs, it’s easier to write a personal check to make up the difference than to have to get another cashier’s check. “I always advise my clients to bring a checkbook in case there are incidentals that need to be covered,” says Marine Yoo, a top-performing agent in Madison, Wisconsin, who works with over 81% more single-family homes than the average agent in his market. “Maybe there was a meter that was read incorrectly, so it’s just a small amount that needs to be adjusted.”

4. Time, date, and location of the closing

Use that Boy Scout motto of being prepared by plugging the appointment information into your phone or scribbling down a reminder note. Set an alarm. Confirm the date with your agent. Do what works for you to ensure you show up on time at the right place.

5. Government-issued identification

You’ll need a photo ID issued by the government to prove your identity. A driver’s license, passport, military ID, or state ID card are all acceptable forms of identification. To be safe, it’s also wise to bring a second form of identification, such as a social security card or credit card. Van Ravensway says your identification may be the only thing the seller absolutely needs to bring – at least in Arizona. “All the other things are usually left in the house or collected by the agent. It’s done out of title, off to the side.”

6. Your writing hand (and maybe your lucky pen)

This is a little tongue-in-cheek, but you will have plenty to sign. “Just come with your writing hand because you’ll be signing a few documents,” Yoo says.

7. Proof of repairs

If the seller agreed to make specific repairs as part of the sale, it’s important to document that the work was done.

8 Final utility bills

Depending on the agreement made regarding whose responsibility it is to pay the final utility bills, the seller may need to bring them to closing.

9. Anything else your agent asks you to bring

There could be additional documents your agent will want to hand over, such as proof of home warranty or your last property tax statement.

What documents will you sign or review at closing?

Although sellers don’t have as much to sign at closing as buyers, as Yoo indicated, there are still some documents that require the seller’s signature. Here are some:

1. The deed to your home: This is the official document used to convey ownership from the seller to the buyer. After closing, the deed must be filed with the county recorder. This is the only thing the seller has to sign at closing, according to van Ravensway. “All the others are signed ahead of time.”

2. Closing statement: Also called the settlement statement, this document itemizes all money owed on closing day. Costs can include transfer taxes, property taxes, and homeowners association fees. Your agent should provide a copy for your review prior to closing.

3. Closing disclosure: As a result of the subprime mortgage crisis from 2007-2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau now requires that buyers are provided with a Closing Disclosure listing loan costs, fees, and information no later than three days prior to closing for buyer review. Sellers who agree to pay part of the buyer’s fees for obtaining a loan will also receive a copy of the closing disclosure.

4. The affidavit of title: This document affirms that the seller has the sole right to sell the property. It also details any legal issues connected with the property, such as liens and defects – both of which must be resolved before the deal can close.

5. Bill of sale: The bill of sale denotes any and all of the personal property the seller is leaving to the next owner, such as appliances and window treatments.

6. Most recent tax statement: Property tax receipts enable the buyer to estimate the taxes they’ll owe on their new property. Whether the buyer or the seller owes property taxes at closing depends on the local real estate tax schedule. Some municipalities collect in advance – which could result in a refund for the seller. However, other cities and towns collect property taxes in arrears – which could result in the seller owing at closing.

7. 1099-S tax form: Unless you qualify for the capital gains tax exclusion, which covers up to $250,000 of the net profit on the sale of your home (or $500,000 if filing jointly), you’ll probably have to fill out a 1099-S form to report the taxes you’ll owe to the IRS on the sale of your home.

Post-closing seller’s checklist: What comes next?

Once you’ve made it through closing, there are just a few things left on your to-do list.

  • Pay off your existing mortgage. If you’ve sold your home before paying off the mortgage on it, you’ll have to do so now. Contact your lender to get the payoff amount. It’s common for homeowners to owe money on a home they are selling. Whether you wire the money, write a check, or send the funds to a new home escrow funds (if you’re selling a house and buying another at the same time) is the lender’s decision. According to Yoo, “The title company and the lender will work together and say, ‘This is exactly how we want the funds transferred.’” Van Ravensway says this occurs automatically, so the seller doesn’t need to worry about writing a check. “The title company handles the mortgage pay-off. The seller doesn’t do anything.”
  • Notify USPS of official change of address for mail forwarding. You’ll want to let the post office know your forwarding address. Remember to update your address with your banks, subscriptions, bills, friends, and family.

Some dos and don’ts sellers should know

  • Don’t remove items that were part of the sale: Don’t take the washer, dryer, refrigerator, or fixtures like the chandelier if the sales contract indicates they’re included. A seller may be required to return the item(s) or pay for replacement(s). Van Ravensway recalls one seller who substituted a smaller refrigerator for the one in the house when the sales agreement was signed. She and the seller’s agent bought a refrigerator the same size as the original to appease the buyer.
  • Don’t skip a promised repair: Be sure to have agreed on repairs completed. Because a walkthrough is done 2-3 days prior to closing, there aren’t usually any surprises … unless the seller has waited until the last minute to move out. Having receipts will prove the work was done.
  • Don’t worry about dressing fancy: A common question sellers have is, “What do you wear to a house closing.” Van Ravensway says, “Closing is very informal. In Arizona, people wear jeans and a T-shirt; it’s casual.” She adds that sometimes, a notary is sent to the seller’s house, rendering the transaction even more informal.

Closing day: More than just a paper trail

Remember: Although the seller has fewer requirements for closing than the buyer, there are still a few closing documents for the seller to sign, such as disclosures, and the settlement statement.

Whether you choose to be present for closing or sign the paperwork remotely, now you know what happens on closing day for the seller.

For an optimal experience, partner with a top agent who can help you navigate your entire house-selling journey from list to close. HomeLight can connect you with an experienced, trusted agent in your area. This free service can save you a lot of time and help you get that Boy Scout badge by being prepared for closing. Answer a few questions about your selling plans to get started today.

Header Image Source: (Pxhere)