A real estate closing is the legal process for transferring ownership of real estate (or the replacement of an existing mortgage with a new mortgage as part of a refinance) and disbursing escrow funds.
Here are the primary steps to be completed as part of a real estate closing process:
Step 1: The closing attorney receives a signed contract (or a loan request from a new lender in a refinance) and places the deposit funds in escrow (if acting as the escrow agent).
Step 2: The contract (or loan request) is reviewed by the closing attorney to understand the transaction and the obligations of the parties, including transactional amounts, closing date, cost allocations, etc.
Step 3: The attorney orders a title report showing the current status of ownership, including any existing mortgages or other liens on the property.
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Step 4: Based upon the attorney’s review of the title report, additional items may be ordered such as a municipal lien search, homeowner/condo association status letter (if applicable), updated survey, existing loan payoff statement, and any other documentation for the seller to convey clean title to the buyer (or for an owner to sign a new mortgage in a refinance).
Step 5: The attorney collects contact information from the parties in order to prepare the closing documents, which include the deed of conveyance, closing affidavits, and the closing statement (a breakdown of the amounts due from or to the parties as part of the closing).
Step 6: Once the attorney completes the title review, prepares the closing documents, and finalizes the closing statement; the title insurance commitment is issued and the parties are scheduled for their signing.
Step 7: After the parties sign the closing documents, the title insurance commitment is turned into a title insurance policy and the closing funds are disbursed from the attorney’s escrow account.
Step 8: The deed of conveyance and mortgage, if applicable, are recorded in the public records.