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Posts Tagged ‘real estate closings’

What You Should Do After Closing

You searched for homes over the course of months or even years. You endured a series of offers and counter offers, property disclosures, inspections, loan applications, due diligence, and packing. Finally, after so much excitement, stress and anxiety, the house hunt has come to an end. But the story isn’t over yet. Here are some next steps to consider before you actually move in.

Make Copies of your Closing Documents.
The first stop you make after closing should be your local copy shop. While all the documents are still together and in order, make at least one copy of everything. Put one set in your folder for tax filing and one set in a file for house records.
Get a Safe Deposit Box and Put the Original Documents In It.
Keep your photocopies on hand at the house in case you need them in a pinch, but store the originals of your mortgage loan docs and your title certificate in a secure, off-site location. That means a safe deposit box at the bank, or on file with your attorney.
Got the keys? Great, now change the locks.
Assume that every one and his brother has a set of keys to your new home. The seller’s real estate agent likely gave copies to his or her assistant, a stager, handyman, or even another agent at some point during the marketing period. That does not even take into consideration the spare keys that the Seller’s gave the neighbors, their family, cleaning lady, and babysitter. That’s why the first person you should call after getting the keys is a locksmith. Spend the money to get all the locks changed or re-keyed right away. Don’t forget to reset any key code combinations that can be used to gain entry to the house as well including the garage door opener, garage keypads and alarm combinations should be changed.
Hire a cleaning crew.
There’s nothing worse than showing up with the movers, dozens of boxes and your personal belongings only to discover the seller hadn’t had the place cleaned as thoroughly as you would have liked.

Assume the worst and get a professional cleaning crew and painters in there the minute after the closing along with carpet cleaners. You want to start life in your new home with a clean slate. The movers might make a mess while moving in. But the bones of the place will be sparkling clean and you will have freshly painted closets and walls before the furniture and clothing gets in place.
Have a handyman, small contractor or designer on call.
Moving in can take days, if not weeks, and is made up of the kind of stuff you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Things like aligning your framed artwork, centering the couch in the living room or getting the large rug set up in the master bedroom can drive you crazy. Nailed multiple holes in the wall in an attempt to get your family photos lined up on the staircase? Not all of us are cut out to do this kind of stuff. While it may seem like a luxury, investing a few hundred dollars in hiring someone to take orders, help with setting up and take over some of these mindless tasks will save time and potentially relieve you of a giant headache.
Play “what went off”:
Turn all of the lights on, plug radios, lamps, etc., into as many outlets as possible, then turn circuits off one at a time; make a list of which breaker controls what, and post it near or on the inside of the panel(s). Make sure you know where the main water shutoff is, and test it to see if it works. If you have a water filter, check it or replace it.
Check the furnace filters/replace if not new looking. Check gutters and leaders for blockage; clean if necessary. If you have a fireplace, have the flue inspected by a professional. Check/change batteries in smoke detectors.
If you control your own hot water, you’ll want to check the temperature pretty early on during your first day in the house. Developers of new homes have a bad habit of turning water heaters to “vacation” mode just before closing. This saves their utility bills but will result in a cold surprise when you go to take a shower. The temperature dial on your water heater should have a tick mark at the best setting. You don’t have to turn it all the way to the hottest point unless you need near-boiling water at all times.
 Put your Name on the Mailbox & Buzzer. If you’re living in a multi-unit complex, like a condo building, you’ll want to get your name on the mailbox as quickly as possible, since the post office won’t deliver to nameless boxes. People are of mixed opinions on whether you should also label your intercom buzzer. It can compromise your privacy, but if you’re expecting a lot of guests or deliveries it will make things easier.
Cover the Windows.
The residents of your new neighborhood are about to watch you parade all your belongings into the house. Don’t let them figure out what you’ve done with them so easily. Make sure you’ve got something in the windows of each room – it can be towels, shower curtains, cardboard – doesn’t matter what for now. Just make sure your privacy is safeguarded so your windows don’t become a walking advertisement for burglars and peeping toms.
Photograph everything. 
You’ll eventually want to take an inventory of everything you move into your house, but before you do so it’s a good idea to take pictures of your house in its native state. Once furniture is in place it will be difficult to remember where outlets are and what your home looked like when it was brand new. In the event of a catastrophic loss, you’ll need to refer back to those pictures in order to restore your home, so make sure you store them offsite, email them to yourself at a webmail address, or upload them to a cloud-based server.
Meet your new neighbors.
Getting to know your new neighbors and trading phone numbers can be very beneficial in case of emergencies. There is always value in having a good neighbor.
Make sure your first weeks and months of homeownership are safe and pleasant.

Plan first. Party later.

Residential Real Estate Closing Costs and Fees

In addition to a down payment, you will also have to have sufficient cash on hand to pay for closing costs. The person purchasing the home pays usually closing costs, but with some mortgages (VA for example) the seller can pay closing costs. A little-known fact is that a big part of costs and fees actually go to third parties who process the mortgage, as well as local governments as taxes.

The average closing costs percentage is usually about 2-5% of the purchase price. But all cash buyers may end of paying less and high risk buyers getting a loan may end of paying more.

As an informed mortgage customer, you should make your mortgage banker walk you through each cost, and explain in detail what you are paying.   Lenders are required to give you a Good Faith Estimate.

It is advisable that you fully understand the total cost of purchasing a home in advance of finalizing a contract. State laws and fees will vary depending on the practice and real estate law within the state. Here’s a breakdown of the most common closing costs and fees with a rough estimate of average cost:


Appraisal :($200-$600) – This is paid to the appraisal company to confirm the fair market value of the home.

         Buyer’s Attorney Fee: (not required in all states – $400 and up)

Lender’s Attorney Fee: (not required in all states – $150 and up)

Escrow Deposit for Property Taxes & Mortgage Insurance: (varies widely) – Often you are asked to put down two months of property tax and mortgage insurance payments at closing as a requirement by the lender.

Credit Report: (up to $50) – A Tri-merge credit report is pulled to get your credit history and score.  You cannot supply your consumer pulled report and the scores pulled form the internet from any place other than are not real scores nor are they accurate.

Closing Fee or Escrow Fee :(generally calculated a $2.00 per thousand of purchase price plus $250 – $500) – This is paid to the title company, escrow company or attorney for conducting the closing. The Title Company or escrow oversees the closing as an independent party in your home purchase. Some states require a real estate attorney be present at every closing.

         Home Owners Association Transfer Fees – The Seller will pay for this transfer which will show that the dues are paid current, what the dues are, a copy of the association financial statements, minutes and notices.  The buyer should review these documents to determine if the Association has enough reserves in place to avert future special assessments, check to see if there are special assessments, legal action, or any other items that might be of concern.  Also included will be Association by-laws, rules and regulations and CC & Rs.  The fee for the transfer varies per association, but generally around $200-$300.

Title Company Title Search or Exam Fee (varies greatly) – This fee is paid to the title company for doing a thorough search of the property’s records. The title company researches the deed to your new home, ensuring that no one else has a claim to the property.

Survey Fee (varies greatly) – This fee goes to a survey company to verify all property lines and things like shared fences on the property.  This is not required in all states but will be required if you are getting a loan. The cost will depend on if an existing survey exists, if there have been additions or deletions to the property since it was last surveyed, the size and complexity of the property, et. al.

Courier Fee (up to $50) – This covers the cost of transporting documents to complete the loan transaction as quickly as possible.

Lender’s Policy Title Insurance: (Calculated from the purchase price off a rate table. Varies by company) – This is insurance to assure the lender that you own the home and the lender’s mortgage is a valid lien. Similar to the title search, but sometimes a separate line item.

         Loan Application Fee: (Varies by lender) A fee charged to process an application for a loan, such as a home mortgage from a lender or mortgage broker.

Owner’s Policy Title Insurance: (Calculated from the purchase        price off a rate table. Varies by company) – This is an insurance policy protecting you in the event someone challenges your ownership of the home.

Transfer Taxes :(varies widely by state & municipality) – This is the tax paid when the title passes from seller to buyer.

Recording Fees: (varies widely depending on municipality) – A fee charged by your local recording office, usually city or county, for the recording of public land records.

Processing or Loan Origination Fee :(varies by lender) – This goes to your lender. It reimburses the cost to process the information on your loan application.

Underwriting Fee: (varies by lender) – This also goes to your lender, covering the cost of researching whether or not to approve you for the loan.

Loan Discount Points: (often zero to two percent of loan amount) – “Points” are prepaid interest. One point is one percent of your loan amount. This is a lump sum payment that lowers your monthly payment for the life of your loan.

Pre-Paid Interest :(varies depending on loan amount, interest rate and time of month you close on your loan) – This is money you pay at closing in order to get the interest paid up through the first of the month.

    Private Mortgage Insurance: If your down payment is less than 20%, the lender may require that you purchase this insurance to protect them from repossessing and selling the home for less than the loan value.

Property Taxes: proration depending on what has been already paid or is owed by the Seller:

Wood Destroying Pest Inspection and Allocation of Costs: – If required by the lender or buyer, the inspection generally runs up to $125.00

Last, but not least, you probably will get your own home inspection to verify the condition of a property and to check for home repairs that may be needed before closing.  These inspections can include general inspection, RADON testing, seawall, pool and roof inspections, Chinese drywall, mold and more.

Closing costs and fees are part of a mortgage, and knowing what they are and how much they should be is a good idea. This will put you in a position to challenge a cost or fee that seems exorbitant. Even if everything is correct, you have the right to ask, and your mortgage company has the duty to explain — in detail — each and every closing cost and fee.



Why Use a Real Estate Attorney

For most people, buying a home is the largest and most significant purchase they’ll ever make. Hiring a real estate attorney early in the process will protect you against the unexpected, and ensure a smooth and low-stress closing. Every state and sometimes regions within states have differing requirements. Some states leave that as an option open to the buyer and seller while others mandate it as a necessity. Your local real estate agent should be able to advise you what the protocol is in the area in which you are buying.

A real estate lawyer will protect your rights and interests in the transaction…unless you are using an Exclusive Buyer Agent; they are the only party truly “on your side”. Hiring a real estate attorney is a smart choice.  A real estate attorney takes over after the selling price contract terms have established and all parties have signed.  They will review the contract itself, negotiate repairs based on the home inspection report, and collaborate with the title company.

A real estate lawyer has the experience and training to handle the unique issues regarding real property, and the problems most people can’t anticipate. They see a lot of contracts and know the local customs, and can help cut through roadblocks. In most states a real estate agents cannot draft changes to the contract or give legal advice and very few transactions fit into a “boilerplate” contract. In addition, most Realtor form contracts are drafted to the benefit of the Seller; an attorney will add language to further protect a buyer’s interests.

Your lawyer will review the purchase agreement during the contract review period and will check the fine print of the Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&Rs) in common interest developments like condominiums, coops, country club communities, developments, and townhome projects.

Your attorney works with your mortgage loan officer, the other party’s attorney and agents to make sure that dates are set for attorney approval, home inspection, title search, mortgage commitment and other contingencies are reasonable and achievable.

Your attorney will also review important documents, including legal descriptions, mortgage loan documents, the property survey, and the title and title insurance policy, and deed.

The attorney will inspect important documents for common mistakes such as typos and misspelled names, including the legal description of the home.

The bill of sale may be another important part of the transaction that categorizes and inventories any personal property, such as appliances or furnishings, that are to be included as part of the deal.

They are also extremely helpful in negotiating for unpaid prorated expenses due to you from the seller, such as: property taxes, condominium assessments, and utilities

In most states, attorneys can change legal language in a purchase contract and void a purchase contract under state laws. You might need this in case an inspection comes back with serious red flags such as mold, plumbing, or foundation issues.

Your attorney attends the closing, to ensure the process moves along efficiently and effectively. In the case of problems/issues, the attorney will counsel and represent you.

Your attorney has no direct emotional involvement in the transaction, and no conflict of interest. You’ll appreciate a levelheaded counselor by your side if the situation becomes difficult.

You’ll receive something of great value: peace of mind!



Open Permits: A Homebuyer’s Nightmare

ANY open permits and or code violations need to be fully addressed and resolved by the potential home buyer, prior to closing.  Failing to do so can be very costly for a homeowner.

Open permits remain with the property, despite any change in ownership.  Failure to uncover any open permits prior to closing means that these permits become the responsibility of the new owner.  Requirements to remedy an open permit can include fines, fees, and completion of pending work and removal of work that does not meet building requirements.  Open permits can be quite costly and time consuming.

Q. What is an open or expired permit?

 An open or expired permit is a permit which has been issued by a County or Municipal building department but has not been formally finalized in accordance with established guidelines, typically by means of a final inspection, within the time provided.  Once the time has lapsed for the permit to be closed by the issuing department it is referred to as open or expired.

Q. Why do I need an open permit search?

One of the biggest obstacles for home sellers these days is the issue of open permits.  Since many Counties have declared war on open permits, homeowners are finding themselves at the mercy of county inspectors when the time comes to close on the sale of their home.  Attorneys and title companies may recommend that buyers not close if a permit search reveals open permits

Q. Will title insurance cover open or expired permits?

A good title company or real estate closing attorney will take care of this for you but you have to ask for it because it normally is not done.  Title companies can close the sale on a property with an open permit on it, and most will never even conduct an open permit search; it’s not the same as a lien search.  You should order an Open Permit Search at the same time you schedule your inspection.

This is a service that I provide for my Buyers. I usually go to the Building Code department of the town or municipality where the home is located and pull the record on all permitted activity on the home.  If there is work that has been done that has not been permitted that is an issue that should be addressed by the home inspector.

Q. Will my closing agent check for open or expired permits?

Oftentimes the person selling the home or their listing agent has no idea about his or her own permit situation. They may have had some work done and their contractor told them everything was good to go and somewhere down the road they will find out that the permit is still open and if you are the new owner this is now your problem to deal with.  Sometimes work was done before the current owner bought the home and they have no idea anything could still be open.

The best way to protect yourself is to do an open permit search.  If you are selling your home it is a good idea to make sure your home has all of its permit issues in order because nothing can kill a deal faster than when a buyer finds out there are open permits  If you are the buyer, take care of it before you face a potential issue in the future.

Q. Who is responsible to close an open permit?

Open permits can be grounds for the title company to balk or the lender to renege on financing.  Uncovering open permits and closing them typically falls on the shoulders of the SELLER but may not be written in a standard contract. Every State or County’s standard contracts vary.  Make sure you understand the terms and conditions involving permits in whatever contract you are using. It often can be grounds for terminating a contract.

Q. Is it really that important? What is the worst that can happen?

If open and/or expired permits exist and are not closed prior to closing, these permits become the responsibility of the new homeowner. The new owner will be responsible for paying all fees and/or fines and will be forced to complete the pending work.  If the permit is not properly closed, the building department may be able to order the removal of the work on the property.

Q:  Found an open permit.  Now what?

If there are any open permits on your home the Building and Zoning Department can provide you with the name and contact information for whomever pulled the permits.  You can then contact the contractor to get the permit closed.

Q:  What if the contractor is no longer in business?

If your contractor is no longer in business, you have a couple of options:

You can close the permits yourself. This involves contacting the Building and Zoning Department; arranging for any missing inspections; following up with inspectors and the department to make sure that the permit is closed on the computer.  Or, you can contact a local permit expeditor to close the open permits for you.