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What Actually Happens at a Real Estate Closing?

Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to hamptons@curbed.com.

Ahh, the closing. You’ve found your dream home, got the mortgage ready to go and now your conscience is steady. Right? Once you get to the closing, everything should be fine and dandy, but of course, there are always obstacles. Before the closing, your agent should accompany you on the “final walk-through” (even though they technically don’t have to) so they can make sure everything seems to be in order, and that there are so gaping holes in the home, either literally or figuratively.

At a closing, the basic idea is: the buyer gives the seller their money. The seller gives the buyer the deed. In short, everyone is moving on with their lives. Two closings may be taking place: the closing of the sale, and perhaps the closing of the buyer’s loan for the mortgage.

The closing can take place at a bunch of exciting locations—the office of the managing agent, one of the attorney’s offices, one of the broker’s offices, or even some sort of “official” place that can record the sale. The people attending the closing should be the buyer and the seller, their attorneys, perhaps their real estate agents (though they don’t actually have to be there). a closing agent or perhaps a rep from the mortgage company.

There are also some insurance dealios that might have to happen—definitely make sure you know all of these fine print points with your attorney. Buyers need to come to the closing with major moolah in hand, most of which is described in your purchase application, Curbed is not an attorney, so make sure you get all the details from yours before the closing!

The attorneys will have a closing statement that breaks down the costs paid by the buyer and the seller, and how much money they should walk away with after brokers and attorney’s fees, flip taxes, and the like are paid off. It will list the buyer’s and seller’s “debits and credits” in the transaction. These all have to be paid in certified checks—when someone is paying in all cash, they’re not expecting Scrooge McDuck to appear with a bag of gold to complete the transaction. Checks are fine.

Closings can take a shockingly long time to complete if both sides are not prepared, so make sure you go over as much as possible with your attorneys beforehand. You’ll need to sign a bunch of stuff and bring a bunch of checks. If you have no clue what the papers mean, things might drag on a bit. If the buyer and seller are in agreement, hopefully it shouldn’t be too painful.

The most symbolic part of the closing is when the buyer receives the keys to their new apartment. Of course, you should probably go right home and change the locks, but it’s a nice thought anyway. If the seller is really nice, they might even treat you to the warranty on their fridge.

Finally, the attorneys will record the deed and mortgage in the public records, where you can look them up and get your real estate fix on for the day. Of course, Curbed will tell you about all the cool ones so you don’t have to bother.

· Curbed University [Curbed Hamptons]