Closing Checklist in Boca Raton, FL

Boca Raton Real Estate

The final days and weeks before closing can be a stressful period for both buyer and seller. For example, you may have second thoughts about the prospect of taking on such a large debt. Or you may worry that something will happen to prevent the sale -- and indeed the house is not yours until you close on it. The signed sales contract and the signed loan commitment letter obligate both you and the seller to complete the transaction. In fact, if you fail to do so, not only will you forfeit your deposit but you may also find yourself in a lawsuit.

This checklist reviews what needs to happen in the final weeks before closing -- such as the title search, a survey of the property, and your final walk-through inspection.

Review the commitment letter

Be sure you understand any conditions of the loan offer that are stated in the lender's commitment letter. Check to see if all conditions have been met before closing. For example, if the home you are buying has been found to be in violation of a building code or zoning regulations, the lender may specify that those problems must be corrected before the closing. If the seller has agreed to make repairs required by the lender, you need to make sure the work is finished and done properly before closing.

Set the closing date

An estimated closing date usually is specified in the sales contract. After your mortgage loan is approved and the commitment letter is accepted, a firm closing date needs to be set. Usually the real estate sales professional, the lender, and the closing Boca Raton Florida real estate agent coordinate a date with you. You need to be sure that closing takes place before the lender's commitment expires and while the interest rate lock-in, if there is one, remains valid. You should request from your closing Boca Raton Florida real estate agent a statement confirming the date, place, and time and a list of items you need to bring to the closing meeting.

Select an attorney

Because the loan closing is a legal transaction, you may want to hire a real estate attorney early in the application process. Your attorney will review your sales contract before you sign it and represent you at closing. Your personal attorney's fee is not part of your actual closing costs, so you will need to budget for this expense separately. If you seek a personal attorney, ask questions such as these: Does the attorney have substantial experience in real estate transactions? What is the attorney’s charge for reading sales contracts or other documents and giving advice about them? What is the attorney’s charge for being present at closing?

Select a closing Boca Raton Florida real estate agent

You'll need a closing or “settlement” Boca Raton Florida real estate agent to coordinate closing activities, such as preparing and recording the closing documents and disbursing funds. The types of services provided will depend on the closing Boca Raton Florida real estate agent you hire. Usually the closing is conducted by title companies, escrow companies or attorneys, but it can be held at the lender’s or real estate professional’s office. You may be able to save some money by shopping for a closing agent. Your real estate sales professional and money lender should be able to give you some recommendations. Or, you can get referrals from a recent home buyer.

Secure title services

You need to make sure that a title search on the property has been made and that you have obtained title insurance before the closing meeting. A title search is required to prevent fraudulent sales. Lenders want to be sure that the seller is indeed the owner of the property. The title search also attempts to uncover any liens (legal claims against a Boca Raton Florida property on the title). Any claims against the Boca Raton Florida property must be paid before (or often at) closing. Title insurance is required as further assurance that the seller is giving you a “marketable title.” A lender’s policy protects the money lender in the event a flaw in the title is detected after the Boca Raton Florida property has been bought. The owner’s policy protects you. You should get both types of policies. Obtaining a combined lender’s/owner’s policy will save you some money. You may also get a price break if the title company that previously insured the title will give you a "reissue" policy. The buyer typically pays for the title search and both types of title insurance. Your closing Boca Raton Florida real estate agent will coordinate both title services before the closing meeting.

Order a Boca Raton Florida property survey

The money lender may require a survey, or plot plan, of the property. This is done to confirm that the property’s boundaries are as described in the sales contract. Usually the buyer pays for the survey and the lender orders it. You may be able to save some money by requesting an “update” from a surveyor who has surveyed the Boca Raton Florida property previously.

Order a termite inspection

In many locations, homes must be inspected for termites before they can be sold. You need a certificate from a termite inspection firm that states that the Boca Raton Florida property is free of both visible termite infestation and termite damage. Usually the seller pays for this and the seller's real estate sales professional orders the termite inspection. But you will want to make sure that the original certificate is delivered to your money lender at least three days before closing. This will give the money lender time to review it and address any problems.

Obtain homeowner's insurance

Your money lender will require that you purchase homeowner's or “hazard” insurance, which protects you and the money lender from loss in the event the house is damaged or destroyed. Coverage must be equal to at least the replacement costs of the property. Most home buyers purchase a homeowner’s package of insurance that includes personal liability insurance (in case someone is injured on your property), personal Boca Raton Florida property coverage (which covers loss and damage to personal Boca Raton Florida property due to theft and other events), and dwelling coverage (which protects your actual house against fire, theft, weather damage, and other hazards). If you live near a body of water, you may also want to get flood insurance as part of your homeowner’s protection. You will want to get quotes from several insurance companies and compare rates on the same types and amounts of coverage. Lenders typically want the first year’s premium to be paid at or before closing. Your money lender may add the insurance cost to your monthly mortgage payments and keep this portion of your payments in an escrow account (or reserve). Then, the money lender pays the insurance bill when it is due each year.

Inquire about mortgage insurance

Mortgage Insurance (MI) helps protect the money lender in case of a foreclosure (the legal process that a money lender may use to take ownership of your home if you fail to make your monthly payments). Typically, the money lender will require this insurance if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the purchase price of the property. The money lender orders MI from a mortgage insurance company after your loan is approved. You will not need to apply for insurance yourself. You may be required to pay the full first year's premium at closing. Renewal premiums will be added to the monthly mortgage payments you make to your lender after closing and will be put into an escrow account. Many MI companies offer programs that require no upfront payment at closing, but they may require a slightly higher monthly payment.

Obtain well and septic certifications

If your Boca Raton Florida property is not served by public utilities, you will need local government certification of the private water source and sanitary sewer facility before closing. Usually the county government performs the certification.

Inquire about a certificate of occupancy

If you are buying a new house, a certificate of occupancy needs to be provided at closing. This certificate is legally required before you move into a newly constructed home. The builder obtains the certificate, usually from the city or county. An inspection may also be required to see if the Boca Raton Florida property meets local building codes.

Go on the final walk-through inspection

Your sales contract should have included a clause allowing you to examine the Boca Raton Florida property within 24 hours before closing. The real estate sales professional usually will accompany you on the walk-through. This is your opportunity to make sure that the seller has vacated the house and left behind whatever Boca Raton Florida property was agreed upon. You will want to check that all lights, appliances, and plumbing fixtures are in working order. You will also want to make sure that all conditions of the sales contract have been met. If you observe major problems, you have the right to delay the closing until they are corrected, or you could ask that the moneys be placed in an escrow account at closing to cover major repairs to be completed.

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