Sellers: Don’t close on your home before completing these steps
You’ve made it to the final step in selling your home: the closing.
What a process. You’ve done it all. From cleaning and organizing, to making repairs, to vacating for showings and open houses; sometimes it felt like you would be selling your house forever. But then, like angels from heaven, the perfect buyers came along with an offer you couldn’t refuse, and here you are at closing.
It’s a great place to be. Before you sit back and savor the moment, let’s go over what to expect at closing and how to prepare for the big day.
What to bring
As the seller, you’ve already done most of the work, so your list of things to pack on closing day isn’t too extensive. While you won’t be hauling a bunch of stuff, planning ahead will save you extra trips back to the closing location to deliver whatever it is you forgot.
It’s common practice these days for sellers to cover at least a portion of the buyer’s closing costs.
Now is the time to hand over that check. Since it’s probably quite a large amount, those fees should be paid with a cashier’s check. You’ll also include any funds you promised the buyer to cover any repairs discussed in the contract.
The clickers, codes, and warranties
After living in a house for a number of years, you get used to accessing all the crawl spaces, sheds, and hidey-holes. When it’s time to sell your home, it’s so important that you don’t leave without passing on this key (see what we did there?) information to the buyers.
- Garage door openers and access codes
- Keys to gates, fences and sheds
- Passwords and software information for built-in smart devices, e.g thermostats, locks and doorbells
- Warranties and manuals
If you’ve arranged with your buyers to stay in the house past closing, plan to leave all of this
paraphernalia on the kitchen counter when you leave. Otherwise, you should bring these items to the closing and hand them over to the buyers.
Yes, you really should bring this. Even if you don’t foresee a situation where you’ll need one, pack it anyway. According to Marine Yoo, a real estate agent from Wisconsin, “I always advise my clients to bring a checkbook in case there’s incidentals that need to be covered,” Yoo said. “Maybe there was a meter that was read incorrectly, so it’s just a small amount that needs to be adjusted.” You don’t want to add yet another to-do to your list if it can be done right away.
While you probably have your driver’s license with you all the time in your purse or wallet, you’ll want an additional government-issued ID with you at the closing. At least one piece of identification needs to include your photo, so if you don’t have a driver’s license, bring a passport or other state ID. For non-photo ID, your social security card or a credit card will work.
Miscellaneous items your agent says you need
It could be property tax receipts, utility bills or other minutiae, but if your realtor says you should bring it, make sure you do. Again, we’re all about being efficient and saving time later on. Better to have additional documentation and not need it than to not have what you do need. Let’s minimize those potential headaches, shall we?
The final walkthrough
We’re in the home stretch now. First things first, though: you don’t want to make the common mistake of turning off the utilities and/or electricity before the final walkthrough is completed. The point of the walkthrough is to give the buyer a last chance to tour the house and make sure everything is as it should be.
If you’ve already turned off the electricity and utilities, they’ll have no way of checking lights, heat/AC and other appliances. While you might think they’d just assume everything is in working order, that’s not necessarily the case. After all, would you assume such a thing if you were the buyer? Exactly. Instead, make those calls right after the closing has concluded.
A few other best practices for the walkthrough:
Leave what you’ve agreed to leave…
It’s standard practice in home sales that whatever is attached to the house will stay with it. We’re
talking smaller stuff like window treatments and light fixtures, to larger items like the fridge and
oven. If you’re incredibly attached to your wooden blinds and absolutely need to take them
with you to your new place, that’s something you’ll need to negotiate with the buyer as part of the contract.
Your realtor will keep this top of mind. Diane Keane, a Delray Beach, Florida real estate agent, elaborates. “If the seller is supposed to leave something like the curtains or the garage refrigerator, or even a certain piece of furniture which had been negotiated, the agent would speak with the seller just to make sure to do those things so that the walkthrough goes smoothly.”
If you’ve taken something the buyer didn’t agree to, it could sour the closing.
…And don’t leave what you said you’d take.
How’s your attic? (No, that’s not a pick-up line.) Is it overflowing with holiday decorations, toys
your kids have outgrown and projects you never quite got around to completing? Like most of us, you might have some long-forgotten stuff lurking in your storage. (Hey, no judgment. We think handmade Halloween costumes are super cool.) Unless you’ve arranged to pass all of these treasures on to your buyer, however, it would be unwise to leave such belongings behind. Abandoning a surprise pile of clutter could delay the closing or end up costing you additional funds.
Oh, and don’t forget to check outbuildings and sheds! You might have the house all packed up
only to discover a shed full of lawn tools, and who wants to be like that on moving day?
Make final repairs and get the receipts.
If you’ve agreed to replace floors, paint the walls, or complete other projects as part of the negotiations, make sure to knock these off of your list—and keep the receipts—before the final walkthrough. At the walkthrough, provide buyers with documentation for these finished projects.
It can seem like a lot, but if you have a good agent and you’ve kept (reasonably) on top of things during the home selling process, many of these steps will already be done well before closing day. Be methodical about sticking to the contract and completing promised repairs. Then, show up to the closing with the proper documentation (and cash!) in hand and you’ll have that big check in hand before you know it.