You’re almost done with your home sale. The end is so close, you can almost taste victory! But before you celebrate the conclusion of this real estate transaction, it’s important to be as eagle-eyed as ever. Several things can happen during closing, and some of these events can threaten to undo the entire home sale.
For your eventual move
Transfer/cancel your utilities and change your address. Weeks before closing day, make sure to transfer utilities to your new residence and cancel the ones you no longer need. Take the time to change your billing address as well—you don’t want any of your mail to pile up in the home after you’ve moved out.
Cancel your insurance policies. Unless it was agreed that you’re going to transfer the policy to the homebuyer, don’t forget to cancel your insurance policy. The best time to do this is once the title has officially been transferred.
Make sure the house is clean. If the homebuyer saw a sparkling-clean house before making an offer, they should open the doors of their new home to find it in more or less the same state as well. If it’s too much work, hire a professional cleaning service to do a deep clean of the property. It also pays to go through the rooms once again and make sure you’ve packed all of your personal belongings.
Unplug and lock. Before you say goodbye to your old home one last time, make sure everything—doors, windows, and other entryways—is locked. Do a final sweep and check if all remaining appliances and home systems have also been unplugged. This is especially important if the home is going to sit vacant for a while.
For the eventual change of ownership
Gather all of the important documents. Don’t wait until the night before the closing date to secure all of the
paperwork you need. Keep everything, from your seller disclosures to the purchase contract, in one place for
safekeeping so that it’s ready come closing day. To be safe, make copies in case something happens in the future.
Prepare a packet. This welcome kit of sorts should contain everything you need to pass to the homebuyer, including all the relevant keys (doors, gas, mailbox, pool, gate—all the works), warranties, manuals (for the appliances and home systems like HVAC and the sprinklers, if applicable), and any receipts you find from contractors as well as appliance and furniture stores.
Place everything inside an envelope and leave it an area that is private but still easy for them to locate such as the
primary bedroom’s closet. You also have the option to hand this packet to the homebuyer on closing day or during the final walkthrough.
Fulfill your end of the bargain. You might have a list of things you agreed to do during the negotiation phase. This may include making some repairs or leaving certain furniture or appliances that are part of the home sale. Whatever it is, make sure you satisfy all the buyer requests at least a few days before the closing date.
Keep yourself available. During escrow, the homebuyer and other parties involved (which may include their agent and their lender), may need to be in contact with you. Keep your phone lines just in case something arises and address requests promptly to avoid any speed bumps.
Be there during the final walkthrough. Leaving a packet of incidentals is definitely helpful to the home’s new owners, but being present in the final walkthrough is just as important. Apart from making sure everything about the home is just as agreed, you can share tips and other information only you, the former homeowner, knows about the property. It’s a kindness that will make the transition easier for you and the homebuyer.
You may be wondering, “Do I have time to do all of this?”
Of course! But it depends on when the closing date is. According to this June 2021 Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report (https://static.elliemae.com/pdf/origination-insight-reports/ICE_OIR_JUNE2021.pdf), it takes an average of 51 days to close a home purchase.
If there are few issues about the sale and the buyer’s mortgage application, you can both agree on a shorter closing period. At the same time, both parties can arrange for a longer closing period if there are several things that need to be done.
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