DISCLAIMER: Information in this blog post is meant to be used for educational purposes only, not financial or legal advice. If you need help sorting through your closing documents, HomeLight always encourages you to consult your own advisor.
Selling a house can feel like the short end of the real estate transaction. After you’ve prepped and staged the house to perfection, strangers get to walk through and cast their judgments while the sweat drips from your brow. In the end, you’re the one who has to say goodbye to a place you called home.
But if you manage to stick it out, you’ll be rewarded at the closing table. While the buyer’s hands go numb halfway through a ceiling-high stack of loan paperwork, your job is breezy by comparison. Oh, and who’s the one that walks away with a big check? That’s you!
So long as your real estate agent has your ducks in a tidy row, the seller’s list for what to bring at closing is short and sweet. With this collection of simple reminders for how to pack your purse and what you’ll need to sign, consider this deal in the bag.
What to expect on closing day
To complete a real estate transaction between a buyer and seller, the two parties must go through a closing process (also called a “settlement”) where they exchange all relevant documents and funds to finalize the deal. It’s at this point that property ownership will officially transfer to the buyer and the seller will receive the proceeds from the sale.
The closing occurs between four and six weeks after you’ve signed a purchase and sale agreement on one magical day. Prior to closing, the seller will need to complete any repairs they agreed to make to the house and prove that the title is free and clear of defects.
Your closing meeting will take place at the office of a neutral third party. Depending on your state, the designated location could be the office of a title company, escrow company, or mortgage lender.
The buyer and their agent will be required to attend the closing to review and sign the packet of financing paperwork.
However, it’s not always necessary for the seller to show up. In the event that the listing agent can prepare to have you sign the deed and transfer documents ahead of time, you might be able to skip the meeting altogether. (Talk to your agent about what they recommend for your situation).
Grab it and go: What do sellers need to bring to closing?
On the day before closing, put these items in a bag or set them out on your kitchen counter so you don’t forget!
Keys, codes, and garage door openers to the house
Once you’ve officially closed on the house, you are no longer the rightful owner. So, all of the objects, codes, and other home miscellany need to be brought to the closing site on the day. Items can include things like all keys, garage door openers, passcodes, or other devices that control appliances around the home. After all, what good is buying a house if you can’t get into it or use the garage!
Here’s a quick checklist to help you cover all your bases:
- Keys to the front door, back door, garage, porch, and backyard.
- Punch codes for gates, fences, door locks, and garage doors.
- Access information for smart locks, thermostats, doorbells, or appliances.
- Any other remotes or devices that control systems of the house.
In the event that you’ve agreed to move out at a time other than closing day (which must be written explicitly into the contract), then you can alternatively leave these items on the kitchen counter for when the buyers take possession. Just make sure your agent gives the buyer’s agent a key to enter the house on the agreed-upon move-in date.
Cashier’s checks for closing costs and repair credits
If you’ve agreed to cover a portion of the buyer’s closing costs or offered them $1,000 to fix hazardous cracks in the driveway, be prepared to bring the funds to the closing table in the form of a cashier’s check from your bank. Personal checks will typically not be acceptable for large amounts of money transferred at closing.
So why do you still need to grab your checkbook?
“I always advise my clients to bring a checkbook in case there’s incidentals that need to be covered,” says Marine Yoo, a top-selling real estate agent in Madison, Wisconsin. “Maybe there was a meter that was read incorrectly, so it’s just a small amount that needs to be adjusted.”
Easier to have it on hand than make a separate trip to deliver a $30 check the next day.
Time, date, and location of the closing
Best to have a note jotted down in your phone or a piece of paper if you’re old-school with the time and date of your closing. Confirm with your agent the name and location for where it will be held as well.
It may be common sense, but the closing agent needs to verify that you, in fact, are who you say you are. On the day of closing, bring two forms of identification to be on the safe side. The first must include a photo like a driver’s license or a passport. The other should have your name printed on it (like a social security card, or credit card).
Your writing hand (and maybe your lucky pen)
As Yoo puts it: “Just come with your writing hand because you’ll be signing a few documents,”—the specifics of which we’ll cover below.
Anything else your agent asks you to bring
Prior to closing day, confirm with your agent whether you should bring any additional documents or items, whether it’s your last property tax statement, utility bills, proof of home warranty, or home repair receipts.
What documents will be there for you to sign or review at closing?
Although the buyer will have the majority of the signing to do, sellers don’t get off scot-free. The documentation will vary depending on your state and the logistics of your individual sale, but these are a few of the important papers that might be ready for your review and autograph at closing:
The closing statement assesses and itemizes all of the money that is owed on closing day. The listing of fees and credits shows your net profits as the seller, and summarizes the finances of the entire transaction. Costs in this statement include expenses like transfer taxes, property taxes, and association fees. You should be able to review a version of this document with your agent before closing to make sure every item looks correct.
You may see the settlement statement come into play in coordination with the “Closing Disclosure” form.
In the wake of the subprime crisis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requires that buyers receive the Closing Disclosure, outlining loan costs among other fees and information pertinent to the borrower, no later than 3 days before closing for review.
If you as the seller offer to pay any of the buyer’s fees for obtaining a loan, you’ll likely get a version of the Closing Disclosure as well which outlines exactly what the lender’s charges are.
The Affidavit of Title
This document is provided by the seller and stipulates that as the owner, they have the sole right to sell the property. The affidavit of title also states any legal issues that may come with the property, like any specific liens that prohibit the seller from putting the home on the market. All liens and defects will have to be cleared before the deal can close.
The Deed to Your Home
A property deed is an official document used to transfer ownership from the buyer to the seller. The deed should not be confused with the house title, which refers to a home’s history of ownership. During closing, the newly signed deed is collected by the county recorder and made public.
Bill of Sale
The bill of sale denotes any and all of the personal property that you are leaving to the next owner, from appliances to window treatments. Everything that you and the buyer agreed to transfer over goes on this document.
Post-closing checklist: What comes next?
After you’ve settled up at the closing table, you’ll still have a few items to check off your list, including:
- Pay off your existing mortgage.
If you’re selling before you pay off your current mortgage in full, contact your lender or servicer and request a statement showing your payoff amount. The payoff amount is the total you’ll have to pay to satisfy the terms of your mortgage loan, including any interest you owe.Yoo says that more often than not, a homeowner will owe money on a home they are selling: “The title company and the lender will work together and say ‘this is exactly how we want the funds transferred.’”
So when you receive your home sale proceeds at closing, you can wire the payoff money to your bank, bring them a check, or send the funds to your new home escrow fund in the event that you’re selling a house and buying another shortly thereafter per the lender’s instructions.
- Notified USPS of official change of address for mail forwarding.
Don’t forget to update your address with your banks, doctor’s offices, subscription services, and friends and family.
- Leave the house “broom clean” for your buyers.
Avoid any last-minute surprises with HomeLight’s guide to preparing the house for the final walkthrough.
Closing day: Is it just transactional?
Now that we’ve reviewed how to get ready for your closing and what to take with you when that day comes, you’ll sail through the logistics. But is closing all about paperwork, signatures, and legalese?
Not always. If you do attend closing, it could be your first (and only) opportunity to meet the buyers of your home.
“This is a chance for them to connect with the buyers at the closing table,” says Yoo.
“Usually both sides are super excited. Maybe the sellers are crying their eyes out because emotionally they’re thinking, ‘Wow, I grew up and raised my kids here.’”
At the same time, the buyers are thrilled about the prospect of moving into their new home. So while closing is official business—Yoo says clients may take the chance to shake hands and even exchange numbers. The seller can share insider tips, like how the guy in the blue house across the street fixes lawn mowers. The buyer could send you pics of how they renovated the shag-carpeted basement.
It’s not required that you become best friends, but sometimes—the closing table is more than a paper shuffle.
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