What is a Real Estate "Closing?"
A "closing" is the meeting of the buyer(s), the seller(s), their agents, representatives from the lending institution and from the title company. This is where the actual transfer of title to the property occurs. The purchase agreement or contract you have signed describes the property, states the purchase price and terms, sets forth the method of payment, and usually names the date and place where the closing or actual transfer of the property title and keys will occur. This meeting is also referred to as the settlement.
The title company transferring ownership of the property to you will prepare a new deed. Your lender will require you to sign a document, usually a promissory note, as evidence that you are personally responsible for repaying the loan. You will also sign a mortgage or deed of trust on the property as security to the lender for the loan. The mortgage or deed of trust gives the lender the right to sell the property if you fail to make the payments. Before you exchange these papers, the property may be surveyed, appraised, or inspected, and the ownership of title will be checked in county and court records.
What Should I do to Prepare for the Closing?
As previously mentioned, you should have already conducted any inspections you wish to have done on the property. You will also be required to pay all fees and closing costs in the form of "guaranteed funds" such as a Cashier's Check. You will be notified of the exact amount of funds required to close by your agent or lender prior to the closing.
What is an Escrow Account?
An escrow account is a neutral depository for funds that will be used to pay expenses incurred by the property, such as taxes, assessments, property insurance, or mortgage insurance premiums which fall due in the future. You will pay one-twelfth of the annual amount of these bills each month with your regular mortgage payment. When the bills fall due, they are paid on your behalf by the lender from the special account. At closing, it may be necessary to pay enough into the account to cover these amounts for several months so that funds will be available to pay the bills as they fall due. You may also be required to refund items prepaid by the seller. For example, if the seller has paid the special assessments or taxes for that year, you may be required to refund the value of the months remaining the year when you take possession of the property. An escrow fee is usually charged to set up the account.