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Buying & Selling a Home

Preparing to Go to Settlement on a Home

Most of the hard work is done by the buyer, but you'll still need to ride herd on the agents, lawyers and title clerks.

Preparing to go to settlement? If you're the seller, you have relatively little to do at this point. The bulk of the work between contract signing and closing falls on the buyer, who must arrange for a home inspection, financing, and homeowners and title insurance policies.

See Also: 7 Things to Do Before Accepting a Buyer's Purchase Agreement

If you agreed to have something repaired, do it now. If a problem arises with the title, you could become involved with paperwork, legal bills and delicate diplomacy. If a title problem is so complicated it threatens to delay settlement, your buyer may want to void the contract. Your attorney may be able to smooth things over for a time, but if the deal seems headed for the rocks you'll need to determine what your rights and options are.

Here are some of the common last-minute glitches that can be avoided at settlement by being prepared:

Keep abreast of progress on both sides. If your buyer is having trouble getting a loan on the terms specified in the contract, you should know it; if she is turned down, it could jeopardize the whole deal. A day or so before closing, make sure all the necessary papers and documents have been gathered and are in the hands of the right players.

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At this stage, everything should have been spelled out in the contract. Your agent should have kept you up to date on what you should expect to net from the transaction. You should have received an estimated-net sheet when you signed the listing agreement, and another along with each contract presentation. Prior to settlement, the escrow officer or settlement attorney should have provided you with a copy of the settlement sheet. If you are handling your own settlement, you can get an estimate at the time you arrange for closing, or "open escrow," whether it is with a title or abstract company or an abstract attorney.

People who should be present at closing need to be kept informed of any change in the date, time or place. They should be reminded a week before closing, and again the day before.

Anyone named on the deed under which you hold title must sign the new deed by which you grant title. In many jurisdictions, if you have married since acquiring title, your spouse also will have to sign the deed. If a co-owner doesn't live nearby, allow time to have the deed signed and returned before settlement.

You should know when you will be paid. Don't expect to walk away from the settlement table with a check in hand, but don't leave the question of when and how you will be paid undetermined. Most settlement attorneys do not disburse checks until all the necessary documents have been recorded. If that's the procedure, when will the recording take place, and how often are checks made up?

If you are buying another property, consider having both settlements at the same office, scheduled back-to-back. That way, the timing of the disbursement is not a problem. You sign a paper authorizing the title company or attorney to assign the funds from your sale to your purchase.