For many buyers, closing day can’t come fast enough. Once the offer is made and accepted, the time between can seem like eternity. For many, closing day goes smoothly. For others, there may be some unexpected surprises that pop up. While closing day problems are not usually anticipated by a buyer, they are not unheard of, and depending on what kind come up, some can be minor while others can impact the entire deal. Here are some of the most common closing day surprises.
For many buyers, a final walk-through is a must before closing as it allows the buyer to ensure the property’s condition hasn’t changed since the last visit and that any agreed-upon repairs have been done per the contract. If moving furniture created a new hole in the wall, agreed-upon fixtures have been removed, or the property is in total disarray, the issues need to be addressed immediately. The buyer’s agent should work with the seller’s agent to resolve any surprises that have come up. Walk-through issues are generally not deal breakers, but they can be a thorn in a buyer’s side.
A common surprise at closing is an error in the documents. Errors can include misspelled names, incorrect addresses, and even incorrect loan amounts or missing pages. Some issues can cause an hour or two delay, while others can result in a much longer delay. To avoid any document surprises, a buyer can request to see every document ahead of closing. Loan documents should be scrutinized prior to closing; by law, a buyer should receive a Loan Estimate form and Closing Disclosure form three days before closing. Once these forms are received, it’s up to the buyer to double-check the loan amount, down payment amount, interest rate, and all personal information, including spellings. If questions arise, the sooner they’re answered the better.
When buying a home, a title company will make sure the title to a property is legitimate by doing a title search, which is essentially a thorough examination of property records to make sure the title is clear of any liens or claims on the property. Title surprises can include: IRS tax liens, unpaid property taxes, judgments, contractor or mechanics liens, identity affidavit, and encroachments. Some of these surprises can be resolved on closing day; others may take a significant amount of time to resolve and will undoubtedly delay closing. Once escrow opens, the title company completes a preliminary title report and sends it to the lender and agents involved — a buyer can get a copy from his/her lender or from the title company and check if there are any preliminary issues. Many purchase agreements include a specific time period for the buyer to bring up any concerns regarding the title, so if there are issues w ith the title, get the ball rolling on resolutions as soon as possible.
For buyers applying for a mortgage loan, maintaining the same level of credit between being approved and the final closing is extremely important for a successful transaction. A person’s credit can be impacted by anything: changing jobs, getting a new credit card, closing a credit card, falling behind on payments, and even adding additional debt through large purchases. Surprises when it comes to a buyer’s credit can be a deal breaker for the lender; to prevent issues, a buyer can contact the lender ahead of closing to discuss any surprises that may have come up and come to a solution. The best way to prevent credit surprises: avoid making large financial decisions prior to closing.
Credit surprises can impact a mortgage loan, but there are other mortgage surprises that can come up on closing day. In a hot real estate market, lenders can be incredibly busy and inundated with loan applications. Sometimes, a buyer’s loan file can find itself on the bottom of the pile, meaning there may be important items omitted, documents missing, or extra information needed to complete the file on time. For a buyer applying for a mortgage loan, asking the lender what documents will be required ahead of time can save time and prevent headaches on closing day. Buyers can also call or email the lender to make sure they have all the important documents, items, etc. to complete the loan file on time. Before closing, a closing agent will be assigned to the transaction (the closing agent coordinates the final steps of the transaction to make sure all documents and funds are in order and handled correctly) — the bu yer can contact the closing agent to make sure the lender has all the needed documents, and if there is still any doubt, copies of all the documents and anything else that may seem important or pertinent to the transaction can be brought to closing.
Remember, your real estate agent is working on your behalf. Keep your agent informed — your agent wants to help you as much as possible, and he or she can be a great resource when you have questions.