You may want to read the previous chapter on purchase offers and special financing options here.
If you really want the house and you’ve been flexible, persistent and creative enough to get the deal done, congratulations!
The most crucial piece of advice for the closing stage is definitely to have the purchase agreement in writing. There is no excuse for not signing a written contract between the buyer and the seller.
That said, closing is a stage when—you guessed it—you bring the negotiations to an end and sign the contract. Sometimes, to get what you want, you have to try hard and not give up. Be creative and flexible, yet vigilant. Don’t let yourself pushed into the corner, but rather try to find the best time and way to get through with the process.
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Final House Inspections
The seller and you should agree on the schedule of professionals examinations of the house, as well as who pays for which one. You should organize an appraisal, a professional home inspection (or more of those), and a review of repairs which the seller has agreed to do. The review you should do as a part of the final tour (or final access visit) of the house, about two days before the closing date. This will reassure you that the house is in the condition you expect it to be.
You should know, however, that after you sign the contract, you usually cannot back out of the agreement even if you find deficiencies in any of the abovementioned areas. To offset potential costs stemming from unsatisfactory home quality, you might try to find a suitable temporary home warranty insurance policy. For a set amount of time, such policy will cover the costs of unexpected repairs or the expenses related to replacement of internal systems, fixtures and appliances.
Do set a move-in date before the purchase, so that nobody tries to delay your taking over the house.
Setting the Closing Date
It is hardly a good idea to arrange your closing date at the end of the month (or, even worse, the end of the year). These times are busy for everyone and it would have to be a rare coincidence that both you and the seller will be ready for such an important transaction. You will also have better luck with professional assessors, inspectors, bureaus and the like.
If you don’t like the date set out in your Agreement of Purchase and Sale, you can always ask your Realtor® to draw up an Amendment making a change to the date; the seller has to sign off on this change of course. It’s simply easier to stay away from very busy times – you’ll have less trouble finding movers, booking service elevators, and those sort of things.
Between acceptance of the offer and closing, your agent should be working with the seller’s agent (and if necessary, both parties’ lawyers) to ensure that any arrangements to conduct an appraisal, home inspection and/or agreed-upon repairs are carried out. It is rare for you as the buyer to have direct contact with the sellers, though you may chat with them when you go back to the property with your Realtor® for any access visits! Access visits are like showings, except you are touring your soon-to-be home already. This is a good time to take pictures, take measurements to plan the layout of your furniture, and get to know the house.
To repeat ourselves: make sure one of your access visits is scheduled very close to the closing date, so you can get in to verify the house in the condition you expect it to be. Check that any stipulated repairs were done. Even if you find something wrong with the home that you didn’t know about, you are still contractually obligated to buy the property and you will still have to close on the date set out in the Agreement. The only other option is for you to forfeit your deposit and risk a lawsuit, although you may still have some legal recourse if something has changed significantly for the worse in the home’s condition since the day you bought it.
Closing Costs and Payment
Make all necessary arrangements so that you have the necessary cash ready on the closing date. The amount you’ll need will amount to any settlement costs and the down payment, less any money you submitted with the offer or paid to the seller before. The closing cannot be made unless money can be transferred.
In addition to your down payment, you’ll need to pay for:
- the lawyer (around $1,000, but fees vary),
- various disbursements for things like title insurance and a tax certificate from the City,
- land transfer tax where applicable (ask your Realtor® for a calculation of the applicable taxes for your municipality),
- a property survey if no current sketch or document exists (approximately $1,000), and
- an appraisal fee to obtain the mortgage.
To be entirely sure, check with your real estate agent which documents you must bring with you to the closing and … don’t forget to bring them.
Now that you know how a closing looks like, get ready to move in to your new home.
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