The “HOME” Stretch

[photopress:home_stretch.jpg,thumb,alignright]The final days preceding the actual closing date are often the most confusing part of the home buying process. 9 out of 10 buyers and sellers think that something actually happens that involves them, on the closing date shown in their Purchase and Sale Agreement. I am often asked by clients “Should I take off work the day of closing?”

I can see no reason why the buyer should take off the day of closing, as most times you would have nothing to do to effect the closing, and you don’t normally get the keys to your new house until pretty close to the end, or after the end, of business that day.

There are generally two days that the buyer needs to take time from work during the real estate transaction. The first is in Phase 1, the home inspection. Yes, you can do it on Saturday and sometimes in the evening, but there are only 52 Saturdays in a year and getting the best inspector is worth taking time off work. Sometimes the one who isn’t already booked for this coming Saturday, may be the one with no appointments at all. So I would say you should plan to take time off to attend the inspection the first week after you have an accepted offer.

Now for “the HOME stretch”. You need to take time off from work (in most cases) to sign your loan documents and closing papers. This usually happens no later than the day BEFORE closing. It usually takes an hour. Sometimes up to two hours if you have a lot of questions. The frustratring part is you can’t plan ahead very well. Escrow companies will not schedule the appointment until they have the loan documents in hand. Very often that happens only a couple of days before closing. While I can’t get escrow to agree with me because they won’t even talk about an appointment until they “see the docs”, I usually tell clients to be prepared the day before closing, or the day before that, to take a couple of hours off from work.

Once all of the papers are signed, the buyer pretty much just waits until they get their keys. After you sign your documents they are sent (usually by courier or fax) to the lender for review. Lender review can take 24-48 hours at which point the lender “releases the transaction to record”. This release must happen in the morning or early afternoon. Once the transaction is “released for recording” the agent gets a call and then later in the day when it actually records, everyone involved gets a call with “recording numbers”. Once the recording numbers are received, you can get the keys to your new home. That last call often happens between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. So taking the day off from work to wait for that call and your keys is usually not a good idea.

When the documents are very late, it could be either because the escrow timeframe was short or because the loan was “difficult”. Zero down loans with stacked costs or loan amounts that are stretching the buyer slightly past the place where the lender is comfortable, usually have more “conditions to funding” and tend to be the ones where docs are arriving very late in the game. If you have a credit score of over 750 and 20% or more down, the docs may come in very early, and all you have to do at the end is wait for the keys.

More often than not, the buyer looks like the poor gal in the photo above…and very glad to be at the finish line!

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

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