The Contract to Close process can be smooth sailing or can be turbulent. It solely depends on how both sides (buyer and seller) get along, negotiate with one another, how reasonable everyone is, how prepared, knowledgeable and in tune the loan officer and their counterparts are and how much oversight the escrow officer is facilitating. This is why it is paramount to follow each transaction like a hawk from the moment the contract execution dust has settled until the closing and funding. Below is a timeline to follow and from this point forward your calendar should be filled with reminders through the date of closing to ensure a smooth sailing experience for all involved.
Whether you are the realtor party sending the executed contract to the escrow officer or not, it is important to follow up to make sure all documents, addendums, disclosures, etc have been delivered. This is also the best time to establish your transaction management file if you have not done so already adding any additional new documents that didn’t exist if a file was already created. By adding your file contents to the transaction management platform, you will be benefit from the checklist embedded in the system which pinpoints exact moments which to perform tasks or connect with your client or another party within the transaction.
During this period, the buyer is navigating their option period – the time they have to inspect and consult with service and handy professionals regarding concerns or items listed as deficient. This also the timeframe where the title company begins to deliver items based upon the contractual timeline. It is apparent, whether you represent the buyer or seller, to review any item delivered from the title company in excruciating detail and to hold the title company to specific deadlines mentioned in the contract. Generally the buyers due diligence is comprised of their option period which is a pre set number of days defined in the contract as well as delivery of information from third parties (such as a title company/taxing authority/homeowners association) within the days allotted.
I’ve always said, this is process in which things get fun. The buyer will request from the seller additional time to inspect or perform inspections, money in lieu of repairs, repairs or nothing at all. We’ve seen variants of all of the above because no contract and home is exactly alike. Generally the negotiation period is within the constraints of the option period and all parties must be in agreement by the option period deadline. It is important if you are a buyer to understand the seller will need adequate time to mull over requests a backing a seller in a corner at the 11th hour making demands is never a good idea. Just like the buyer had hours, if not days, to wrap their brain around the condition and request – so does the seller. Once the option period is exhausted, generally so have your negotiation period.
Periodically throughout the transaction it is wise to connect with all associated parties: buyer agent, escrow officer, loan officer, etc to make sure all the moving parts of the transaction are doing just that… moving towards closing. This is your opportunity to uncover issues that have sprung up that could delay or unfortunately derail closing all together. Generally, there is an opportunity to keep the transaction on its tracks if the right people are involved keeping a pulse on issues that could derail or delay.
Closing day, for most people, will be a happy day with exciting moments for the respective parties with chapters opening and closing. However, closing day doesn’t just happen on closing day – it starts about a week or so before the closing day. If the buyer is obtaining mortgage financing their lender is working behind the scenes with their closing department and the title company preparing documents and balancing numbers generally up to a week before closing. Because of this timeline, it’s important to set and confirm your clients closing time immediately after acceptance or no later than after the option period has been exhausted. If you represent the seller and they will not be present for an in person closing, they will have the ability to sign remote but must do so at least a day prior to the closing day. The escrow officer will guide you if this should happen. Buyers and sellers exchange keys at the closing table or by other instructions after all parties have signed and the lender has given funding authorization. Generally this can take a few hours after closing so it is best to set the tone will before closing in order to not have an unhappy party to the transaction.