What does a Seller need in order to prepare for a real estate closing?

You have listed your house for sale with the best Real Estate Agent in town and he or she has now secured a contract for selling your house.  What do you need to provide to your agent or title company that will help facilitate the transaction and prevent any delays?  This post will explore different items and information you need to provide during the closing process.  Some information should be given to the real estate agent before you have a contract in order to prevent any delays in the closing.

Information about yourself and the property.

As soon as you have decided which real estate agent you will use to list your house for sale, you should provide him or her with the following information, even if they do not directly ask for it.  You can also provide the information to the title company, but the earlier this information is known, the less likely it will cause a delay in the closing once you have a contract on the house:

  • How is the property titled?  Is it in your name alone, your name and a friend’s name, your name and a spouse’s name, your parents’ names, a company name, a trust, etc.  If you have a copy of the deed when you purchased the property, that is the best way to tell how the property is titled, so be prepared to give a copy of that prior deed to your real estate agent.  It is very important that this is known early on, because anyone on title to the property will likely need to sign at closing.  If you bought the property 10 years ago with your girlfriend and she has moved away with no contact in the past 8 years, she will very likely need to be contacted and will need to sign a deed before you can sell the property to someone else.  She may also likely be entitled to a portion of the proceeds from the sale, but that will depend on the particular circumstances.
  • Have you gotten married since you purchased the property?  If so, you will most likely need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate.  Even if your spouse is not on title to the property, he or she may need to sign the deed at closing.  This may not be the case in every state or in all situations where there has been a marriage, as that will depend on the laws of your particular state, but it is better to be prepared with that marriage certificate instead of having the title company ask for it at closing when you have it packed away in a box.
  • Have you gotten divorced since you purchased the property?  If so, you will most likely need to provide a copy of the divorce decree and marital dissolution agreement approved by the court.  Even if your former spouse was not on title to the property, the court order may contain specific language about the ownership of the property or how the proceeds from the sale of the property are to be distributed.
  • Have any owners of the property died since the property was acquired?  If so, you will at least need to provide a death certificate for that person.  It is possible that you may also need to provide a will and certain affidavits required by the title company.  But it is important that the title company is aware of any deaths as soon as possible so they can do further investigation as to what will be needed in order to close.
  • Have you filed for bankruptcy protection or been involved in any lawsuits?  You will need to provide copies of any orders from the bankruptcy court and copies of any final judgments in a lawsuit, especially if the lawsuit involves the property you are selling.  The title company will need to review these to determine how to proceed toward closing.
  • Do you have any loans against the property?  The title company will need contact information for your lender, along with your account number and social security number and will also probably need an authorization form signed by you in order for the lender to send them the payoff information.  Keep in mind that if you have a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), you may have used the loan funds for something not involving the house, but if the loan is secured by the real estate, it will either need to by paid off and released at closing or transferred to different collateral and released from the house you are selling.
  • Is your house in a homeowners association (HOA)?  You will need to provide contact information for the association, so the title company can find out what fees and association dues are owed on the property.  The association may have charges for providing a statement, a transfer fee, initiation fee, capital contribution or other fees.  If this information is not provided early on in the transaction, many associations also charge a rush fee to provide that statement prior to closing.
  • Is there a mobile home located on the property?  If there is a mobile home, that may require additional work before being able to close as mobile homes are typically titled as a vehicle and that vehicle title may need to be retired before the mobile home can be sold with the land.  How this process is handled may be different in different states.
  • Is the property in a corporation, limited liability company, a trust or other entity?  If so, you will need to provide the articles of incorporation, articles of organization, trust agreement or other documentation showing who has authority to sign for that entity to sell real estate.  Your title company will have specific requirements based on the type of entity involved and may also require resolutions or other affidavits related to the entity selling the property.

On Closing Day!

Once you have made it to closing, you will need to bring a copy of your drivers license, passport or other identification.  If the sale proceeds are being wired to your bank account, you will need to have your account information, which includes: the name of your bank and the bank address, the bank’s routing number for wires (note: this may be different from the routing number on your checks and you should verify the correct routing number for sending a wire with your bank prior to closing), your account number, your name as it appears on the account and your address associated with the account.  If the title company has requested any original documents (such as a power of attorney), you will need to bring those to closing as well.

If you think your work is done when you close, guess again…after closing, you will need to cancel your homeowners insurance (I usually tell sellers to wait until they receive the proceeds before they cancel), transfer utilities, change your mailing address with the post office and unpacking all of those boxes is always fun too!   

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