From the time a contract is first written until the day of closing often seems like an eternity. Getting the required homeowner’s policy, home inspection, appraisals as well as taking care of any other contingency is all part of the real estate buying and selling process. Real estate closings have requirements that must be met before the actual transfer of ownership.
When a contact agreement is reached, earnest money may be part of the agreement. Although it is not a requirement, if earnest money is offered from the buyer, it is held by either the listing or selling broker in an escrow account. It is the responsibility of the real estate agent to bring the earnest money with her to the closing so it is applied appropriately.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as HUD, requires that a settlement statement or HUD-1 be given to all parties involved in the closing. The settlement statement shows all money involved in the transaction and how it is being applied. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act requires that each party receives a copy of the settlement statement at least one day prior to closing. Both the buyer and seller as well as the closing official are required to sign the statement at closing.
The lender provides the attorney or closing official with a list of the proper closing documents. These include the note, tile search, transfer deed and any other document specifically required by the lender, attorney or any other party involved.
If the buyer is required to pay a down payment, it must be presented at closing. The amount of the down payment is based on a percentage of the purchase price and is stated in the loan agreement between the lender and buyer. For a conventional loan, one should be prepared to pay 10 percent down, whereas for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, the buyer pays three and one half percent down. A down payment should be offered in the form of a cashier’s check or certified check but never as cash.
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