After you have opened a file and started a closing information sheet and action log, you should being the process of preparing for closing. The following initial checklist can be used as a guide.
1. Verify employment of the lawyer. Does the person calling have the authority to choose the closing lawyer?
2. Get as much information as possible as quickly as possible.
3. Obtain the latest sales contract. Understand the terms and clarify uncertain terms. Ask the lender to include a copy of the contract with its package so you can verify that you have the latest contract. Determine who is paying closing costs and which agent is holding the earnest money.
4. When closing involves the sale of property by:
a. A corporation: Verify corporate status with the state office that regulates corporations and get a copy of the charter if necessary. Get a corporate resolution to sell the property if you believe the sale is outside the general business purpose of the corporation.
b. Power of attorney: Get the original. Is it durable? If not, can it be replaced?
c. A ward, a person in bankruptcy, or an estate: you will need a court order.
5. If the contract provides for a loan assumption, satisfy yourself about the following:
a. Does the contract state that either the cash down payment or the sale price is firm? Is the other allowed to fluctuate with the loan balance? If not, an addendum to the contract will be necessary.
b. Check with the mortgage company to find out if the loan is assumable; if so, request a loan assumption package.
c. What is the transfer fee?
d. Will this transaction require a modification and assumption agreement?
e. Will the lender need a supplemental certificate of title after closing?
6. Obtain the following information from the seller’s agent:
a. The legal description. The best source of the correct legal description is the title search. The correct street name is on the subdivision plat.
b. Complete names, marital status, work and home telephone numbers, and social security numbers of sellers. The property sources of the sellers’ names is the instrument by which they took title.
c. Those who will obtain the wood infestation report, and whether it will need to be paid at closing.
d. The name of the mortgage company, loan number, phone number, address, and other pertinent information for the entity receiving the payoff.
e. Whether the seller filed for a homestead exemption for the current year.
f. If the seller is divorced, a copy of the decree if the subject property was owned at the time of the divorce.
g. If the seller’s spouse is deceased, a copy of the death certificate, and a copy of the title deed by which the seller took title. If the seller took title under a tenancy with survivorship, you will have no problem. You should secure a certified copy of the death certificate and attach it to the deed.
h. Verification of the commission split.
7. Tell the seller’s agent the requirements of the lender that involve the seller, and that you require photo identification of the parties at all closings.
8. Obtain the following information from the buyer’s agent:
a. Which insurance company will be providing the new insurance for the purchaser, and the agent’s name and phone number.
b. The name of the new mortgage company, and the processor’s name and telephone number.
c. Whether a survey is required, and, if so, whether it has been ordered.
d. Complete names, marital status, social security numbers, and day and night phone numbers of the purchasers. Use the names as the lender provides them.
9. Remind the purchasers and their agent that a certified check and photo identification will be required at closing.
10. Call the new lender about the following:
a. The status of the new loan application.
b. The preliminaries required before the loan package can be released.
c. Inclusion of a copy of the contract and the appraisal in the preliminary package (check appraisal for house size and sewer type).
d. Verification of the proposed closing date. Generally, all else equal, the best day for a buyer to close is the first day of the month, as this enables the buyer to have a full month before the first payment is due, and yet not pay any prepaid interest at the closing. Generally, all else equal, the best day for a seller to close is any day that will allow the payoff to reach the former lender on or before the due date of the next monthly payment.
11. Write or call the former mortgage company to obtain the payoff information (some companies will not give this information over the telephone, but will honor a faxed request). When you request the information, give the loan number, name of borrower, property address, and date through which you would like the payoff to run. This amount should include the prepayment penalty, if any. Also get a per diem amount (daily rate) in case the closing is postponed. If the mortgage is held by an individual, arrange for the original note and deed of trust or mortgage to be tendered upon receipt of the payoff. Have a release signed at that time. Always get a written payoff.
12. Determine whether the contract calls for a zoning certification.
13. Determine whether the contract includes personal property, whether a Uniform Commercial Code search is necessary and whether the lender will approve.
14. Determine whether oil, gas, or minerals are involved. If the contract does not exclude minerals, determine whether then can be excluded in the deed.
15. If leases are involved, address the following matters:
a. Notice of sale to tenants.
b. Estoppel certificates from tenants.
c. Security deposits-transfer.
d. Personal property-bills of sale.
e. Prorate rents.
16. As agents to handle utility switch-over.
17. If the house has a septic tank, obtain a county health department certificate.
18. Determine whether possession will be delivered at closing. If not, is there a lease agreement?
19. Determine whether an escrow will be required for uncompleted or unrepaired items.
20. Arrange the time and date of closing, and verify that all parties to the transaction will be present at the closing. If not, the procedure and steps to be taken must be determined at an early date.