Reprinted with permission from Seattle Property Lawyer
This is everyone’s favorite step, and not just for the reason. There is really very little to do! All the work has been done, and the process should complete itself. Hopefully.
STEP SIX GOAL: Close the sale and collect your money!
By now you will have given lots of information to escrow, like your loan information so the closing agent could get a payoff amount. The only open contingency at this point is probably the financing contingency, and practically speaking there isn’t anything you can do about it. But good news! The buyer is as anxious to close as you, and she’ll do whatever she can to keep her financing on track.
Possible Delay in Closing: It happens, usually due to the buyer’s lender. The loan process is complicated, involving many people in many departments. Sometimes a ball is dropped, and there is a delay.
Insider’s Tip: Have a Plan B for if there is a delay in closing. Don’t tie yourself to an inflexible plan that relies on closing happening on the stated closing date. You’re courting disaster if you do so.
But it’s an easy fix. The parties just need to sign an addendum to the contract extending closing. Because if the loan isn’t ready, closing just isn’t possible. But when the lender is ready to go.
Time to Collect the Money! Closing is itself a fairly complicated process that ends with you getting the proceeds from the sale. When the loan funds, the money is sent from the lender to escrow. The buyer will have deposited with escrow the balance of the funds to close (the down payment plus closing costs, less the earnest money deposited at the time of contract). You will have signed the deed transferring ownership to the buyer. And the title company will have confirmed that title is clear and it is ready to issue its new policy. On the closing date, escrow sends the deed to the county for recording. When escrow receives a recording number for the deed (and if the buyer has a mortgage, for the deed of trust too), it releases the balance of the money to seller. These can be wired, or delivered via check, or you can pick it up.
Uh oh. It can happen for many reasons, the most common being either related to buyer’s remorse, or a last minute failure of financing. But for whatever reason, the buyer backs out.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t get Seller’s Remorse! Honestly, it is very difficult for a seller to get out of the obligation of selling the home. If the seller refuses to sell, the buyer likely has a very good legal claim against him. Assume it is impossible to back out once you have signed a contract to sell. If you need to back out, boy do you need to consult an attorney.
In that instance, you may be entitled to keep the earnest money. Or you may even have some other legal claim against the buyer. To determine your options, of course, you need to consult an attorney (if you didn’t have one on board all ready).
Thinking of selling your home without using a real estate agent? You’ve found a great resource. I am a real estate attorney, as well as a licensed real estate broker, and I’ve helped hundreds of successful home buyers and sellers. Craig provides the following insight for informational purposes only, and without any warranty or guarantee whatsoever. This blog does not create an attorney/client relationship, and Craig is not your attorney unless you have a signed fee agreement with him.
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