Sellers: What Happens Between When the Deal Goes Firm and Closing?
Selling real estate is a huge endeavor and entails a variety of steps in order to go from initial listing to sealing the deal.
Marketing the home, holding open houses and showings, staging the property, keeping the home in pristine condition at all times, fielding offers, and negotiating contracts takes a lot of time, work, and effort. But before the closing dates arrived, there are still a few things that need to take place.
If the real estate contract that the buyer drafted up included clauses, they will need to be either fulfilled or waived before a deal can go firm. If the contract did not include any clauses, the deal will be considered firm once both the buyer and seller agree to the terms and sign off on the agreement.
But what happens once the deal is firm? Is there anything that sellers should do before the actual closing date?
Agreed-Upon Repairs Must Be Made
If there were certain issues with the home that the home inspector found, the buyers may have requested that you make the repairs on their behalf before closing day. This is only one of a few other potential scenarios that could have been played out. For instance, the buyer could have also requested a credit to cover the cost of repairs or renegotiate the price on the home.
But if you both agreed that you would take care of repairs before the deal is sealed, now's the time to get them done before the closing date approaches. These are not tasks that should be left until the last minute but should be tackled in a timely fashion in order to avoid compromising the closing.
Call the Movers
Before closing can happen, all of your belongings must be removed from the home. With the exception of items that you and the buyer agreed to have left behind, all other personal belongings must be taken out. Whether you haul them directly to your new home or into storage, part of the deal is that the home will be vacated before the buyers move in.
Make arrangements with a moving company in advance of the closing date in order to ensure that you're not scrambling trying to get everything out of your home before the closing date approaches.
Appraiser Visit May Take Place
During the time between the sale going firm and the closing date, the appraiser may require a visit to ensure that the home’s value is still in line with the current market. Any major changes to the home could influence its value, and subsequently the buyer’s ability to secure and finalize the mortgage.
Buyer Visits Are Conducted
The buyer will usually have 2 visits to the after the offer goes firm and before final closing. They might want to go back one more time to show their family or to take measurements for furniture they may want to get a head start on buying. But usually the week before closing, a final walk-through is conducted by the buyer and their real estate agent.
During this appointment (which you should not be at), the buyer will take a look around and make sure that everything is in order. They'll want to ensure that the home is in the same condition that it was in when they agreed to put in an offer and that all repairs have been made.
The buyer will also verify that all items that are included in the contract remain on the premises, and that all other items have been removed. This appointment usually takes anywhere between a half hour to an hour to complete, and gives the buyer a chance to make sure they're getting exactly what they agreed to pay for.
Notify Utility Companies of a Final Service Date
The water, electricity, gas, telephone, and cable companies should all be informed of the closing date. By informing these services of your last day of possession, you can ensure that you won't be paying for more than your fair share of utilities after you're no longer using them.
If you plan to keep the same companies for your new home, you'll want to inform them of your new address of service so that you have electricity and gas when you move in.
Fill Out Paperwork at the Lawyer's Office
If the closing is going smoothly, all that sellers really need to do at this point is read, fill out, and sign some paperwork in the presence of their lawyer. These are standard documents that are required in real estate deals in Ontario and are meant to ensure that no holes are left and that the deal can close without a hitch.
Hand Over the Keys
Closing day is when the buyers will be given the keys to their new home - and your old one. They'll usually be given the keys through your lawyer and their lawyer so there is no direct handing over of the keys between you and the buyer.
Usually, the buyer has a lot more work on their plate when it comes to dealing with tasks between the deal going firm and the closing date. But sellers still have their own set of responsibilities as well. To make things easier for you, be sure to heed the advice of your real estate agent who will guide you through the process from A to Z so there's no guesswork involved.