Playing it safe before closing

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Updated: 3/24/2003 1:46 pm
During the final weeks before closing, you should be prepared to know that anything may happen to prevent the final sale of the house. As a result, it's strongly recommended that you perform some important activities to ensure the transfer of the home takes place properly. For instance, you may want to hire an attorney, since the loan closing is a legal transaction. An attorney can review your sales contract before you sign it and represent you at closing. You'll also need to select a closing agent to coordinate closing activities, such as preparing and recording the closing documents. It's a good idea to request a statement confirming the date, place, time, and a list of items from your closing agent that you need to bring to the closing meeting. Furthermore, be sure you review and understand all conditions of the loan offer stated in your mortgage lender's commitment letter. Take the time to read everything thoroughly and consult your attorney or the lender if you don't understand something. Keep in mind that all conditions in the commitment letter must be met before closing. For example, if the home you're buying violates a building code or a zoning regulation, the lender may specify that those problems be corrected before the closing. Other important closing activities to perform include requesting a title search on the property to ensure that the seller is indeed the owner of the house, obtaining title and homeowner's insurance, inquiring about mortgage insurance, and ordering a termite inspection. If you're the buyer, be sure to take time during the final walkthrough to check the walls, ceilings, lights, and plumbing fixtures carefully, as well as any work the seller agreed to fix in response to the inspection. If you find major problems, you have the right to postpone the closing until they are fixed, or you could ask that money be placed in an escrow account at closing to cover major repairs.

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