For first-time home sellers, the closing process may seem both overwhelming and intimidating. You just want to sell your home quickly, but there’s a long list of steps to take (and expenses to incur) before the deal is official – all of which is made more confusing by the industry jargon. But if you know what to expect ahead of time, the closing process won’t be as overwhelming as it seems at first glance. With that in mind, we offer this guide to help you understand the closing process from a seller’s perspective in Seattle.
Closing Date vs. Closing Process
Here, we can actually distinguish the difference between the Closing Date and the Closing Process. The actual closing is the final step in the transaction when documents are signed, money changes hands, and the ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer. All of this happens on the specified closing date when buyer, seller, and various real estate professionals come together for that purpose.
The closing process, however, begins long before that date. “The closing date,” industry experts explain, “is the date ownership of the property is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer . . . The home closing process is all of the steps that are outlined in the sale contract that must happen from the time you accept the buyer’s offer to the closing date.”
Seattle’s Closing Process Steps
You’ve finished negotiations and accepted an offer from a buyer. Congratulations! Now, there are a few things to take care of:
In most cases, your closing agent will order a title search, “a review of public records to make sure you’re the legal owner of the property.”If there are any claims or judgments against the property, the title search should uncover them. These issues must be resolved for the sale to move forward.
This phase in the closing process typically involves title insurance as well, just in case the title search didn’t uncover certain problems. The purpose of the title insurance is to cover buyers if they find out later that the home they purchased had, for example, a lien for unpaid bills.
A home inspection isn’t required, but many buyers insist on it to ensure there are no hidden problems with the property. The inspection will take place shortly after you accept the buyer’s offer.
If the inspection does turn up any problems or repairs that need to be made, you have a couple of options. “Depending on the contingencies outlined in the sale contract, the buyer can ask you to remedy any major repairs before closing or ask for a price reduction or cover the costs of making the repairs.”
If the buyer is borrowing money for the purchase, the mortgage lender will arrange for a professional appraisal. The buyer’s mortgage lender will require an appraisal to ensure your house is worth at least as much as you are asking for it (the fair market value). The primary tool for a professional appraiser is comparative market analysis – an assessment of your home’s value based on the sale prices of nearby comparable homes that have recently sold. Lender’s, after all, have to protect their investments.
If your house appraises below the sale price, the buyer likely won’t be able to get a mortgage for the original amount. In that case, the buyer can make up the difference, you can lower the sale price, or you can challenge the appraisal. If you do find yourself in this situation, your agent can help you decide the best course of action. (To find out more, call (206) 578-3438.)
Typically, the last thing to take place in Seattle’s closing process before the paper signing on the closing date is the final walk-through, usually about a day before closing. The final walk-through typically occurs 24 hours before closing. It’s the buyer’s last chance to make sure that everything is in order (that all the requested repairs have been made) and that no recent damage has occurred (such as roof damage from high winds in a storm).
FINALIZING THE TRANSACTION
The closing date is when the sale transaction is officially completed. You will sign a lot of paperwork, including signing the deed to the property over to the buyer. Closing usually takes place at the escrow agent’s office, often with your real estate attorney in attendance.
Time Expectations for Closing
So how long does the whole closing process take in Seattle? From acceptance of an offer to the closing date, it usually takes about 50 days on average. The main reason the closing process takes so long is the time-consuming process of the buyer’s mortgage lender originating and underwriting the loan. In fact, this is, according to those in the know, “one of the major things that can delay a closing.”
Understanding the closing process from a seller’s perspective in Seattle also means being aware that almost a third of all closings are delayed. A good real estate agent, though, can help expedite the closing and ensure that everything is in place to avoid delays. Find out how our agents can help you close sooner.