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5 Ways to Prepare for Your First Home Closing

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —For first time homebuyers, aside from the stress of searching for the ideal place, securing the mortgage and moving in, there’s also the closing that adds even more drama to the process.

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Even though home closings usually don’t last more than a few hours, showing up unprepared and not having a sense of what’s expected from you could delay your move-in date or even cause the closing to adjourn.

From what you need to bring to what documents you should take home with you to how to make the move-in process more seamless, real estate experts tell MainStreet how to prepare for your closing.

1. Identification

Chances are you’ll have your driver’s license with you at the closing, but you may not think to bring a second form of identification, which the notary may require.

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“Notaries must have identification and notaries are required at all signings. I recommend bringing two forms of ID - such as a license and passport,” says real estate expert Dr. Dani Babb of The Babb Group.

2. Blank checks for unexpected escrow items

Don’t leave your checkbook at home – this will cause plenty of headaches.

“While escrow aims to have all files and payments made ahead of time, it's not uncommon for expenses to pop up at the closing that the buyer is responsible for paying," Babb adds. "Sometimes organizations want to be paid by the buyer, instead of being paid from the escrow account."

3. Utility companies

Upon moving into a new home, it’s up to you to make for a seamless transition when it comes to keeping the utilities running and setting up new cable service.

“Have the names and phone numbers of the new home’s utility companies handy in order to transfer the utilities from the seller to the buyer for continuous service,” says Marie Donnelly, licensed real estate agent and Vice President at The Donnelly Group.

Call each company a few days in advance to make for a smoother transition, but Donnelly says some companies want proof of ownership before they transfer service. Make sure you have documentation ready to send to the utilities.

4. Copies of paperwork

Closing dates aren’t set in stone, and there are a myriad of reasons why the date could get changed.

“If a closing date is off by one day, the amount of interest that is paid on closing changes," Babb says. "This is one example of information/documentation you will want with you in case a question comes up or information is in question. Having a copy of everything you have paid so far is helpful in case you see another charge for the same thing on escrow paperwork."

5. HUD statement

Don’t leave your closing without receiving a copy of the HUD statement, which is important for tax purposes. Also be sure to hold onto documentation regarding the STAR program, which is a tax rebate process.

“The HUD provides a breakdown of closing costs incurred at the closing and some of these expenses are tax deductible. The STAR program is a tax rebate that you need to apply for, hence the need for having the proper documentation,” Donnelly adds.

Scott Gamm is founder of HelpSaveMyDollars.com and author of the new book MORE MONEY, PLEASE.

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