Closing the deal

Congratulations!  You have an accepted offer to purchase a home, and all you need to do now is wait for the close date, and move in.  Right?  Not quite.  There still is a bunch of work that needs to be done, some by you, some by your real estate agent, your mortgage agent, home inspector, your lawyer and possibly others.

Here is a list of a few things still coming your way, or things to make sure you are going to take care of.

  • Make sure a copy of the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale is sent to your lawyer right away. Your REALTOR® will usually do this for you.  When you do your final signature acknowledging you have a copy of the contract, it authorizes your REALTOR® to forward the document to your lawyer.  Your lawyer needs to see any conditions that exist, and the date you and the seller have agreed to close. The lawyer will ask you how you (and others involved in the purchase) want to be registered on the title to the property.
  • Immediately begin satisfying any of the conditions of the agreement that require your action. You don’t want to wait until the last moment to fulfill conditions, take care of them as soon as you can.  Sometimes issues arise through inspection or financing, and you want to make sure you have the time to fix them without needing an extension.  A simple example is if your mortgage requires an appraisal to be done.  You don’t want to be asking for an extension for your financing and having the seller and their agent worrying about your ability to qualify for a mortgage.
  • Upon your direction and after the conditions have been met, your lawyer will begin searching title to the property.  This is an exercise of going back through government records to ensure a clear title that is transferable, and there are no liens or problems that show up that you would be responsible for.  Electronic registration and title insurance have significantly changed the way titles on properties are transferred.
  • A land survey in most cases isn’t necessary, if you are buying a large plot of land (possibly a farm) you want to make sure the 100 acres you are buying is 100 acres, not 96 acres.  Most cases we see lawyers recommend title insurance to cover any problems that arise with encroachments etc.
  • Contact your lending institution to begin the process of finalizing mortgage documents.
  • Your lawyer will contact the seller’s lawyer with any questions or issues regarding title and costs.
  • Your lawyer will check with local utilities (hydro, gas, water) to ensure there are no outstanding claims and to get final meter readings on the day of closing. You should contact the utilities and telephone and cable companies well in advance to arrange for services in your name.
  • Meanwhile, your lawyer is busy making sure that property taxes on your new home are up-to-date, local zoning and building restrictions have been met and there are no liens on personal property, such as appliances, to be sold with your house.  You want your lawyer to make sure that what you’ve agreed to buy is what you’ll get — nothing more or less.
  • Don’t forget to set up your home insurance.  This is something you can do well in advance, and it will start on the day set for closing.  The seller’s insurance will cover the property until the day of close, in case anything were to happen between the purchase date and close date.
  • Your lawyer will review and verify the draft deed, statement of adjustments and other closing information provided by the seller’s lawyer, and will deal with any problems as they arise.
  • A day or two before closing, you’ll meet with your lawyer to go over and sign the closing documents. Bring the certified cheque(s) to cover costs involved. Your lawyer will let you know the amounts in advance.
  • A day or two before closing you’ll want to schedule the final walk-through with your REALTOR® to verify that the people are getting ready to move out (if they haven’t already).  Also, that the home is in the same condition as when you purchased it.  The sellers should leave it in a clean state, in good repair.  This is also a great time to verify measurements, colours for any painting to be done, etc.

When the closing happens, you don’t need to be there.  Your lawyer will contact you when your keys are available for pick up.  If at all possible, don’t plan to move in on closing day.  There is no guaranteed time for you to receive your keys, and you don’t want to be paying movers hourly, to sit, and wait.  You’ll also probably like to do some cleaning, no matter how clean the home is, and want to have time to do that.

Make sure to check over the house, and all fixtures/appliances included in the purchase are functioning correctly.  If there are issues, contact your REALTOR® immediately to attempt to get it resolved.  Otherwise, start unpacking, enjoy your new home!