Anticipating Closing Day Surprises

Any time you’re buying or selling your own property, you naturally want the process to be as smooth and as seamless as can be. Indeed, it’s often said that the best real estate transactions are the ones that are absent any surprises. Unfortunately, transactions like that are exceedingly rare; usually, there’s at least some little contingency in the process, some unexpected happening that can briefly throw you for a loop. If you’ve ever asked how long it takes to close on a house – the answer can be different depending on what happens. Closing day is just one day, you’ll usually have time before that to prepare, gather documents, and secure funds well before that. 

A lot of those surprises may happen on closing day. As such, it’s in the best interests of home buyers and home sellers alike to be aware of some of the most common curveballs, and to be on the lookout for them.

 We’ll review some of the most common surprises that occur on closing dates below. . Also remember that, for individualized tips for selling your house, you can always request your report. Claim your copy at any time, and take the first step toward getting your home sold (as smoothly and seamlessly as can be).

With that said, here are the closing day surprises to keep in mind.

A walkthrough that goes badly

Typically, the buyer will do a final walk-through of the house shortly before closing. This may happen the day of closing, or in some cases the evening before. It simply allows the buyer one more opportunity to ensure that the real estate is in good condition, and that any requested updates or repairs have been made. It’s not a bad idea to ask for proof of important requested inspections or repairs, such as new mold inspection results or a carpet cleaning receipt.

But what if they haven’t done what they said? Or what if a new issue, like a plumbing leak, has arisen? Typically, there are some last-minute negotiations that can be made, such as the seller pitching in a few extra bucks to cover repair costs. If you’re working with an agent, they can provide further advice on the process of restoring the real estate property.

The seller removes something they shouldn’t have

Maybe you were really looking forward to buying a house with an antique light fixture…but you realize at the last minute that the item was removed by the seller and that it’s already been moved to their new location!

Honestly, it’s typically unwise to let something like this derail the whole deal…and unless it’s a high-value item that’s really important to you, you may want to just let it slide.

But the best approach of all is to make sure that these items that are within the real estate are clearly covered in the final contract. If there is a fixture or item you really have your eye on, you clarify that it’s part of the deal. When you sign the title you’ll have the ownership of the property specified and then it’s all yours. 

The mortgage isn’t approved

Probably the worst closing day surprise is to discover that the buyer hasn’t been approved for their mortgage loan. This will often result in the whole deal collapsing, which frustrates everyone. But there are a couple of ways to avoid it.

The first is to just make sure that, if you’re the buyer, you stay within the agreement you have with your lender. Remain in regular contact with your loan underwriter to make sure you’re not doing anything you shouldn’t.

Second, avoid big financial changes during the entire length of the mortgage underwriting process. As you prepare to buy a new home, that’s a bad time to take out an auto loan, apply for a new credit card, or change jobs. Even if you’ve secured the mortgage loan, you should keep checking back with your lender if you want to make larger financial decisions. 

Third, remember to bring the following documents so you are set up for success. Feel free to call the mortgage company if you think you are missing any documents. Some documents you might consider bringing are your photo ID, closing documents, proof of homeowners insurance, and some recommend bringing a small gift or a card for the sellers. Just something small to start closing day off on the right foot. 

The buyer doesn’t have their payment ready

It goes without saying that, when you’re buying a home, you’ll need to pay for it! And usually, that means bringing a cashier’s check for the down payment and any associated fees and closing costs. 

If the buyer shows up to the closing without the funds, right form of payment, or the loan documentation, that can delay the closing by a few hours or even a couple of days. Initially, buyers should ask about closing costs as they place an offer on a house, but the closing numbers often aren’t finalized until later in the process. Buyers should receive a closing disclosure document three days before closing; in this document you can find your interest rate, mortgage amount, monthly payment, and your total closing costs. It should be clear how much you need to bring to closing day and the amount your mortgage should be. But this one, too, is pretty easy to avoid. If you’re buying, make sure you double and triple check with your agent and that you know exactly how much money you’ll need to bring…and what format to bring it in.

When closing day arrives, buyers and sellers alike can take simple steps to minimize the risk of unwanted closing day surprises. Try making a checklist of some of the above suggestions and use them to prepare you for closing day. 

For sellers, we would especially recommend claiming your report, which will tell you everything you need to know about selling your own property. Get yours and take the first step toward getting your home sold!