Buying a house is one of the most exciting milestones to accomplish in your adulthood. While some parts of the home-buying process are more enjoyable than others, closing day is the ultimate day of celebration. If you have never owned a home, or if it has been a while since you moved, you may not know what closing day actually entails.
Essentially, a closing is the legal transfer of ownership of a property from one entity to another. This is the final step in any real estate transaction, and it must occur for the transaction to be complete.
In the state of Georgia, a licensed attorney must conduct the closing to ensure its validity. The closing attorney will do a lot of the background work, including preparing and filing the paperwork, but there are several other hands at work to make this process happen. So, what is your role at the closing table? In this post, we will discuss what a real estate closing is, what to expect on closing day, and how to prepare for it.
What is a real estate closing?
A real estate closing is the process in which the buyer and seller of a property agree to transfer ownership by signing legal documents and exchanging money. Ownership is transferred by way of a deed, which gets recorded in official county records. Even though the process leading up to closing can be lengthy and tedious, the transfer does not happen until the final documents are signed by both parties and funds are exchanged.
What to expect at closing
When you arrive at the attorney’s office on closing day, you will likely sit in a waiting area until all the parties arrive. You may be asked to provide your government-issued ID before you go to the closing table. When everyone is ready, you will enter a room with a conference table. Typically, the attorney will sit at the head of the table. Anyone signing papers should sit near the attorney on either side so that paperwork can easily be handed back and forth.
As you begin the closing, the attorney will explain the meaning of each document that you sign. Keep in mind, there will be a LOT of documents. Do not be afraid to ask questions before signing, because your signature is legally binding. Remember to sign your legal name as printed on the document, especially if you are signing as part of a trust, business entity, or as a power of attorney.
During the process, you may be asked to verify your social security number and sign that you were truthful when providing all finance-related information. If your lender or real estate agent attends the closing with you, they may be asked to sign as a witness on one or more documents.
Once the signing is complete, the attorney will make sure the proper funds have been received by their financial institution, and then they will issue the money that is due to the seller by way of a check or wire. When all funds are exchanged, the buyer will receive the keys to their new home!
How to prepare for closing day
In the state of Georgia, the “TRID” or “Know Before You Owe” act states that parties to a real estate transaction must be given a closing disclosure at least three days before closing. This disclosure is a breakdown of each credit and debit for the buyers and sellers, ending with totals at the bottom. Both parties should review this form to ensure there are no mistakes. The total in the seller’s column will show the amount owed to them at closing, while the buyer’s total will show the total amount due from them.
To prepare for closing, buyers should either obtain a cashier’s check for the total amount due, or wire the funds electronically. Some attorneys prefer one method over the other, so it is always best to ask which payment method to use. If you wire the funds, it is very important that you never follow any wiring instructions sent to you by email. Wire fraud is rampant, and you do not want to fall victim to such a devastating financial loss. Typically, you will have to call the attorney’s office and ask for wiring instructions over the phone.
Before closing, sellers should collect all the keys and devices for the house, garage, mailbox, storage shed, crawl space, common areas, etc. Communicate with the closing attorney about whether you would like to receive a check or a wire for the total funds. Also, double and triple check the property to make sure you do not leave anything behind.
What to bring:
- Cashier’s check for the amount owed
- Any additional documents needed by the lender or attorney
- Proof of buyer’s new homeowners insurance policy
- Government-issued ID for everyone signing
Time to celebrate
After closing, it’s time to celebrate your accomplishment! Whether you are officially homeowners, or you just walked away with a check, you should be proud of yourself for reaching your goal. Our agents at Sheridan Solomon & Associates would love to help you successfully reach the closing table and celebrate with you afterwards.
If you are ready to begin the home buying or selling process, give us a call or reach out on our website, sheridansolomon.com.
Macon: (478) 746-2000 | Warner Robins: (478) 333-2277