Settlement day is not only very, very exciting, but also quite solemn and more than just a little nerve-wracking.
When you think about it, this is the single largest purchase most of us will make in our entire lives. If you think long enough and hard enough about it, such can really give you the willies. However, I would rather light a candle than curse your darkness.
There are things you can do to mitigate these feelings of unrest and uncertainty.
First, you should be in close contact with your Realtor, the title company and the mortgage broker in the weeks leading up to settlement. The title company is another entity that has its hands all over your transaction and, even though you as the buyer are able to select which title company you want to use by law, the real estate agent or the mortgage broker will likely steer you in the right direction in terms of who they think you should use. Again, they know more about the business than you do, probably. However, this doesnt preclude you from shopping around a bit to see if theres a title company you like and can afford.
Usually, settlement costs that come from title companies are pretty straightforward, so the important thing is that youre comfortable with the entire process. They are your guides through the jungle of the settlement; if you dont think you can have a good relationship with them, look for someone else. You want to be in touch with everyone to check on the status of the transaction to be sure, but you also want to see where their minds are at, in case something should go awry.
Second, immediately prior to settlement, like two days before, see if you can obtain a copy of the settlement statement. The settlement statement is the final accounting, or invoice, of all the costs associated with the real estate transaction. On it, youll find realtor fees, charges in connection with the loan, escrow amounts for taxes and hazard insurance, title fees, taxes and other fees, such as the cost of the pest inspection. If you have any questions regarding these fees, let your Realtor know immediately. Sometimes, these questions can be answered, and sometimes they can be resolved. But once you get around the table, it is very difficult to get things fixed.
Finally, if you have no problem with the settlement statement, review the other documents you will be signing at the table. You wont see these until the actual settlement, but peruse everything before you sign it. Reading word-for-word is difficult, if not downright impossible with everyone sitting around the table looking at you. So check to make sure the terms of the loan are what you agreed to. How much the monthly mortgage payments will be. If the interest rate is correct. And what exactly your obligations, if any, above and beyond actually just paying the mortgage.
When you feel comfortable with everything, sign away. But pace yourself, as there will be a ton of documents to sign that day. Remember, if you have a question about any of the documents you are to sign, make sure you ask your Realtor, the mortgage broker if they are there at the closing, or the settlement attorney or settlement office. If no one can respond to your question in a satisfactory way, maybe it might be best to postpone the transaction a day or two. While youll have to pay a redrafting fee for around $200.00, if your question is that important to you, get the extension.
Once you finish signing the documents, you should get the keys while the title agent is handing out everyones checks. This is a great time to just relax in the moment and savor what you have been available to accomplish. Buying a home in this day and age is not an easy undertaking, and the hard part moving in is yet to come. However, if you pay attention to the process every step of the way, you will have achieved your little piece of the American Dream.
And its worth it.
Christopher L. Markham is a general practice attorney based in Frederick. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.