Buyers and Sellers: What to Expect when Closing the Home Sale

Tim Lucas
Military VA Loan editor
What to expect as a buyer or seller as your home closing gets closer.

What to expect as a buyer or seller as your home closing gets closer. Photo: Thinkstock.

by Ed Kunkel, Jr., Realtor® and U.S. Military Veteran

It’s almost time to congratulate you!  You’re on your way to either collecting the keys to the American dream, or handing them off to someone as you move on to the next chapter in your life.

But, before we can shake hands and relish in the moment, let’s make sure you have your ducks in a row to eliminate unforeseen problems.  What I am covering here may be only the tip of the iceberg for some of you, but it should at least help you gather your thoughts, ask questions, and devise a game plan moving forward.

What Buyers should Expect at a Home Sale Closing

The closing date

My first offering of advice goes to buyers.  The best time frame for a close date is between the 20th through the 25th of the month.  If you’re already pending sale, it may be too late to set this date.  But if you’re reading this now before you buy, you may want to keep it in mind for when you write an offer.  Why is this important? 

There are a 101 things that can go wrong in a sale, and when you do your walk-thru on or about the 20th and find issues with the home that are not to your satisfaction, you have time to allow the seller to correct those issues prior to the end of the month.  If you end up extending your escrow to a new month, you will no doubt be adding costs to your bottom line – such as another rent payment you didn’t expect to name one.

The signing appointment

When you go to your signing appointment, here are some great tips to follow:  First of all, see if you can take the day off from work.  It can be helpful for you if your only important task for the day is ensuring that the signing for the purchase of your home goes without a hitch.  If that’s not possible, at least warn your employer that you will need to be flexible with your time in case your appointment time gets changed, or if you have to go back to complete any overlooked conditions.

Secondly, you should already have a binder containing all of your lending and purchasing paperwork that you have received from day one of your home buying journey.  As you are digging through your loan documents, you can refer to your Truth in Lending statement if you have any questions or concerns about the terms of your loan.  Your settlement statement may also not match what you agreed to in writing, and having a copy of your purchase agreement may show that escrow is missing the last addendum that was signed.

Know when you’re getting the keys

Depending on the laws that govern your state, you might not get your house keys during signing.  In Washington State, agents are not allowed to give their buyer clients house keys until transfer of title is legally recorded.  So if your closing date is on a Friday, and your hope is to move in to your new home over the weekend, the sequence of events that need to happen before you get your keys may end up letting you down.  The best way to ensure that you get your house keys when you want them is to communicate with your lender, agent and escrow to help you facilitate a solution to a timely close.

Advice for Sellers as they Approach the Closing Date

Sellers don’t have as much paperwork to fret over at escrow, but they make up for that in other important tasks.  As I recommended for buyers, sellers should also keep a binder of all the paperwork relating to the sale.  This includes your listing contract, disclosure statement, purchase agreement and related addenda, septic pump invoice, and repair work invoice(s).  Do you have any leased appliances?  The most common ones are hot water heaters and propane tanks.  If so, you will want to communicate this with your agent, buyer and escrow.  Contact the vendor for the leased appliance to let them know about your home selling.

Finishing negotiated repairs

Do you have an inspection punch list?  Make sure there is clarity in your intentions with the buyer in finishing repairs that have been negotiated.  Keep all receipts and invoices of your repair work in the binder with your other documentation.  Your purchase agreement is likely subject to a walk thru, so it’s important to either have the work done prior to, or communicate with your buyer if repairs are still being worked on.

Make the buyer feel welcome

When you are moving out, help your purchaser feel welcome in their new home.  Leave a packet for your purchaser containing extra keys, garage door openers, user manuals for the appliances, HOA contact names, contact information for your common home service subscriptions (newspaper, dairy delivery, landscaper, etc.).  Don’t leave the home dirty, have the home cleaned by a professional and include cleaning the windows and steam cleaning the floors.

Leaving your former home to the new owner in a considerate way will contribute to a peaceful transition, and less potential for headaches.  Wait until the day after close to cancel your utilities and insurance, and give fair warning to the purchaser that they will need to set up their own accounts right away.

If you have questions relating to Real Estate, please don’t hesitate to send me an email at and thanks for reading!

Ed Kunkel, Jr. is a Managing Broker/Realtor® at Keller Williams Realty in Olympia, Washington. Visit Ed here. Ed’s Military History: Veteran – U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve; Highest rank, E5; 11 years combined military service.