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The Real Estate CLOSING

Did you ever think this day would arrive? Finally, that home you've been dreaming about is going to be yours and you will officially be a resident of Martha's Vineyard Island. You're a little anxious and wondering what's going to happen at the closing. Will you have everything you need in order for the closing to go smoothly? Hopefully, between your exclusive buyer's agent and your attorney, you have nothing to worry about. But to quote Yogi Berra, "It ain't over till it's over".

What if something goes wrong? Normally, problems surface before a closing and not at the closing table, but sometimes the loan docs arrive at the last minute and the loan everyone thought was approved was not, or the purchaser cannot comply with the lender's terms. Buyers have been known to show up at closing in the hope that the seller will reduce the price in order to close. Although there have been cases where the seller may be willing to take less money in order for the deal to go through, because they already went ahead in good faith with their own plans, I would bet on having success. If the deal doesn't close, everyone loses.

A more common problem that can arise, especially with Martha's Vineyard real estate, is a title problem. Here again, evidence of this should surface well before the closing and hopefully be remedied by the time of the closing. If the title cannot be perfected in time for the closing an extension may be granted to allow the seller to clear the defect. The defect could be as a result of a lien or an inaccurate survey dating back decades, or an owner in the title chain that never signed off on a deed. This is why I feel it is important to research the title back as far as records allow and certainly more than 50 years. The horror stories abound ranging from sellers who are not the rightful owners to messy divorces where a friend impersonates a spouse so that the sale can go through without the true spouse's knowledge. Today it is quite common for the attorney's to request proof of identity in the form of a photo ID.

This leads to a good question; what do you need to bring to the closing? You have your photo ID? As I explained before, you will need your new homeowner's insurance policy and that FAT CHECK --- a cashier's check made out by the bank to the proper party. The check may be made out to the seller directly or to the seller's attorney. Make sure you get that information correctly.

The settlement sheet is a document which lists all of the closing costs and the particulars of your loan. If you'd like a preview of a settlement sheet, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has conveniently put one online. You'll find it by clicking here (Note: You will need the Adobe Acrobat reader, available free online, to view it). You can also go to The HUD-1 to view a detailed explanation of buyer credits and debits commonly associated with the closing.

WHO WILL BE AT THE CLOSING?
Naturally, you and the seller will be there, or those given power of attorney for you and/or the seller. It happens quite often that neither party is present at the closing and every thing is handled in what is called a "mail closing". I don't know why they don't call it a FedEx closing since FedEx is the one expediting documents back and forth and a frenzied shuffle. Your exclusive buyer's agent will be there as will the seller's agent, because they want to get paid and the attorneys will be there to make sure the deal gets done --- they want to get paid too.

HOW LONG WILL THE CLOSING TAKE?
It will seem as if the closing goes on forever, especially since you have a van full of furniture waiting outside along with screaming kids and a barking dog. Assuming that everything goes smoothly, the closing should only take about one hour. I mean after all, how long does it take to hand around a bunch of checks and sign a dozen documents? You can tell when the end is near because everyone is starting to relax and everyone is smiling. Congratulations, you are home.

THE PASSING OF THE BATON
The seller is advised not to cancel homeowner's insurance until recordation has occurred, which is to say, the sale of the house has officially been recorded at Dukes County Registry of Deeds in Edgartown. This usually takes place within 24 hours of the sale.

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