Frequent Questions to Consider Before You Close on Your House

Picture this!    You have been in the process of selling your home and you are almost to finish line.   You have the repairs you need to do on the house after a touch and go negotiation.  The buyers are working on getting the final finance approvals out of the way.  All you have to do is get the repairs done and then sit back to wait for the closing date and time to be scheduled.  Or do you?

There are still some questions for you to consider about the process before you can relax completely.    Believe or not, some sellers believe this period can be the most stressful as most of it is waiting for things to happen.  However, it never hurts to plan contingencies in case it does not go as smoothly as you hope.  The frequent questions to consider before closing on you home will help you to make these contingency plans.  After you get done reading these questions, be sure to check out the rest of the questions here as we help you through the entire process of selling your home though a series of frequent asked questions.

When you are done looking through all the questions, take the first step in selling your home by finding out how much it is worth.  We can get a quick analysis within 24 hours.


What is the appraisal? – Banks will want to make sure what your buyers are offering to pay for a house is its actually value.  In order to do this, the bank will contract with an appraiser to go out to the property and write up a appraisal report of the value of the property. Appraisals are certified by the state and are the only ones qualified to give a true value on a property.   These appraisers have to go through some extensive training, including classroom time, to become an appraiser.   It is not easy to become an appraiser so that is why they are so highly regarded by parties wanting to know the true value of a home.

What happens if the appraisal is different than the sales price? – Appraisals, despite what we are told, are very subjective processes.   I have seen two appraisers come up with two drastic different values for the same home using the same technique.   There is a chance that the sales price you agreed upon with the seller will be higher than what the property is appraised (if the sales price is lower than you are good to go).  Before you close on your house, this difference has to be rectified.   Most buyers will require you to reduce the sales price to the appraised value.  However, you as a seller have the right to negotiate with the buyer.   You can ask the buyer to put more money in the down payment so the Loan to Value ratio changes so the higher appraisal value is no longer an issue.   Most sellers will seek to meet the buyer in the middle by lowering it down half the difference with the buyer putting down a larger down payment.

What does lender required repairs mean?  – Before you close on your house, the lender might require some repairs of you.  I am sure this frustrates you to learn since you thought you left repairs behind when you signed the repair amendment.  However, lenders want to be sure the property is in a sound condition if they are going to loan your buyer a ton of money to purchase it.   With conventional mortgages, the repairs are usually limited to major structural issues like foundation or roof.   FHA, VA and USDA loans require more specific items be in working condition, or not in need of repair.   Whatever loan type you buyer is  using, however, if the lender requires the repair, you have to do it as the mortgage will not be approved without the repairs being done.

When do I have to have the repairs completed?  – As with the repairs in the repair amendment, you do have to get them done before you close on your house.  However, the lender will require these repairs to be done before they will move forward with closing on the property.  With this in mind, you need to take care of the lender required repairs as quickly as possible so the process can move forward.

When should I start packing?   When should I move? –  It is in your best interest to wait to pack until you are giving some confidence from your realtor that the deal will close.   It is a delicate balancing game for you because there are so many things that could happen to delay a closing.  It is best that you ask your buyer to lease the property back to you for a couple of weeks after closing so you don’t have to worry about guessing when the property will close.   This should be done when the initial offer is made, but you can request it of the buyer later in the process as well.  Just don’t wait until you are at the closing table!

Can I leave things behind if I don’t want move all of it? – Please do not do this.  Please be responsible and take all of your stuff with you when you leave a property.   The buyer does not want the junk you don’t want to take with you.   If you do, prepared to be pestered by the buyer’s agent asking for you to come back to clean up your mess.

Do I have to do a deep clean of my house after moving? – This is not required, but is a wonderful gesture on your part for the buyer.    It really depends on how much time and money you have available to have maid service.

What are the closing documents? – Closing documents are sent to the buyer three days before closing so they can review the terms of the mortgage and the sale.  If the buyer protests any of the document, it has to be redone.  It is required by law that buyers have three days between signing the closing documents and closing.  They enacted this step as way for buyers to get out of a home that they might not be able to afford after the terms are revealed to them.   If the buyer does back out at the last second, you as the seller will be giving proper recourse for the default, usually through the releasing of the earnest funds to you.

When do we find out when we close?  – Once the closing documents are signed, you have to wait at least three days.  If the closing date in the contract is different, you will be required to sign an extension to change the closing date.   More often than note, the closing will be delayed by the lender so you should set your expectation accordingly.

What is the final walk-through? – Before you close on your house, the buyers will want to have one final look at the property to be sure it is in the same condition as when they put in the offer.  The buyers will also use this final walk through to inspect the repairs you made to ensure they were done correctly.  Finally, most buyers will also start to measure the rooms for placement of their furniture.

What happens if buyers request repairs after the final walk through? –  This is  a bit of a legal situation so the final answer to this question should come from an attorney.  However, if buyers do request repairs that was not on the repair amendment, you can either agree to them, or say no.   Most buyers will say the repairs are necessary to get the property back to the condition it was when they made the offer so it does get tricky.   An attorney would be a great person to bring into the loop if you decide to say no to the request.   Please note that if the buyer is asking further work to be done on agreed upon repairs, it is in your best interest to do what is asked, at least call the vendor back out to look over their work.

What happens if the buyer can’t close on the house?  –  It depends on the reason why.  If the mortgage didn’t get approved, then you don’t get much beyond the option fee.  However, if the buyer defaults on the contract in any way, you can have the earnest funds they deposited to escrow released to you.  Be forewarned that all parties in the transaction, buyers, sellers and realtors have to agree to the release of earnest funds.

What exactly is closing? – Closing is when you sign the paperwork necessary for the property to be sold to your buyers.   Since you are the seller, your time closing will be very short, 15 to 20 minutes.

What do I need to bring to the closing? – You should bring a form of ID (bring two in case something is wrong with the first one).  If you have to pay off some of your mortgage, be sure to bring a money order or cashier’s check to closing in the amount of the payoff.

When does the buyer take possession of the house? – If there is no leaseback to you, the buyer gains possession of the home as soon as funding is completed.   It is usually the same day.   You can’t go to closing and expect to go back home to pack unless you have that leaseback.  The house is no longer yours and you have to legal right to enter it.

What happens if the buyer demands more repairs after we move out? – See the question above about the final walkthrough.   If you don’t agree the repairs need to be done, it is best to consult with an attorney.