What happens at closing?


Listing to Closing: Steps in a Real Estate Transaction


The most important part of a real estate transaction is the closing.

The closing, also called the settlement, is the legal transfer of property ownership in a real estate transaction – this is when the buyer officially buys the property. In Georgia, the closing is conducted by an attorney, but this practice can vary from state to state. In some places, a title company will conduct the closing.

The attorney will often act in three (4) roles during a real estate closing in Georgia: as the closing agent, the insurance representative, the escrow agent and the representative of the entity providing the money (lender or buyer-when cash). In these roles the closing attorney exchanges and records necessary documents, as well as disburses the funds necessary for the purchase, whether they be the funds for the purchase itself, payments to vendors or inspection companies, or other third parties that agree to have their services paid for out of closing.

The closing will typically be held at the attorney’s office. Your agent will advise you ahead of time on what you need to bring. Often, the buyer will have additional closing costs that they will pay out of pocket, for an escrow account to be established by the lender for taxes and insurance, for services rendered by the attorney, for state and local taxes, and various other fees associated with the transfer of property. Any money owed by the buyer at closing can be brought in the form or a cashier’s check with the check made out to the closing attorney or can be wired to the closing attorney’s account. All these fees, and any money transferred during the transaction, will be recorded on a sheet called a settlement statement. Your agent should receive a copy of this statement prior to closing and review it with you to make sure that there are no errors. Since the lender and the closing attorney have to reconcile numbers and make sure everything is correct, sometimes the settlement statement is not ready until the day of closing. By law, however, the buyer should have seen preliminary numbers at least 3 days prior to closing from the lender in the form of a closing disclosure. They buyer is required to sign the closing disclosure from the lender at least 3 days prior to closing. If, for some reason, the buyer does not sign the closing disclosure by 3 days prior to closing, the closing has to be moved to a later date when 3 days have elapsed between signing and the preliminary closing disclosure and the closing date.

After the closing, the attorney will record the deed, which legally transfers the title into the buyer’s name. The attorney will then have the title mailed to the new owner; this process may take a couple of weeks. If you feel like you should have received your title in the mail, don’t be afraid to ask your agent to reach out to the attorney on your behalf to make sure there are no problems!

A good agent will be able to walk you through every step of the process and make it as painless and uncomplicated as possible! If you are looking for a realtor who knows closings, as well as all other aspects of real estate transactions, inside and out, contact me today through my website!