Selling your house is no small task. There are the repairs, cleaning, staging, last-minute showings; it’s enough to make your head spin. But when you accept that offer and start heading towards the day of closing, it’s all worthwhile.
The last thing you want is complications or problems on or before closing day. Sellers can protect themselves from closing day mishaps by following these five tips.
1. Complete All Repairs and Maintenance
After you accept their offer, the buyers will schedule a home inspection. This inspection typically takes place within the first week or two.
During this inspection, the licensed inspector will note any concerns, everything from cracked caulk to roof damage and HVAC problems. The buyers will review the inspector’s report and take one of three actions:
- Continue with the contract as-is, with no requested repairs
- Cancel the contract, allowing you to put your home back on the market
- Ask you, the seller, to make repairs or concessions based on the report.
In many cases, buyers will come back to the negotiating table and ask for repairs or concessions (that is, a reduction in the home price or cash at closing for necessary repairs). Your agent will review the buyers’ terms with you and decide whether to accept their requests, deny them, or counteroffer.
Should you choose to accept the buyers’ terms, all repairs should be completed before the day of closing. Ideally, those repairs will be finished before the final walkthrough, typically a day or two before closing.
Make sure to keep all receipts, warranty information, and other information about the repairs. You will need to prove that all repairs requested by the buyers are completed to their satisfaction.
2. Cancel Utilities—But Not Until After the Day of Closing
About a week before closing, contact your utility providers and notify them of your move. However, make sure you leave all utilities on until the day after closing. If you cut off electricity, gas, and water before closing, the buyers won’t be able to check those systems during the final walkthrough.
Keeping those utilities on protects the property, too. Imagine you’re selling your home in the dead of winter, but you mistakenly cancel utilities a few days before closing. On the day of closing, your buyers show up to do the final walkthrough and find an unfortunate surprise—burst pipes and a flooded house.
In this instance, the buyers have every right to walk away from the deal, leaving you to clean up the mess. What’s more, you’ll have to start the selling process all over again.
Bottom line: schedule your utility shut-off. But not until the day after closing.
3. Round Up Paperwork
You’ve probably amassed a mountain of paperwork for your home over the years.
Important paperwork includes:
- User manuals
- Warranty paperwork
- HOA documents
- Contact information for your favorite maintenance companies
If you don’t already have all home-related documents together, start rounding them up as soon as possible. Make a neat stack and leave it in a cabinet or drawer for the new owners.
4. Bring Necessary Funds
The sellers have a much easier job on the day of closing than the buyers. In some cases, you won’t need to bring any money to closing. All fees, including real estate agent commission, come directly from the sale of your home.
However, some instances require sellers to bring funds to closing.
If you are helping the buyers with their closing costs, you will need to bring a cashier’s check in the exact amount notated on your settlement statement. You should receive these details a few days before closing.
You might also need to bring a cashier’s check or wire transfer notice if you have a remaining balance on your mortgage after the sale. While this is unusual in today’s market, it is worth noting.
5. On the Day of Closing
Finally, it’s closing day!
Before heading to the closing table, make sure you’ve removed all your belongings and cleaned the home. What constitutes “clean” is often in the eye of the beholder. But you should, at the very least, sweep and mop floors, vacuum carpets (steam clean if time allows), dust and wipe down surfaces and counters, and clean the bathrooms.
Make sure you bring the following information to the closing table or leave for the new owners:
- All house keys
- Garage door openers
- Gate codes
- Information for smart home devices
Then, it’s time to say one last goodbye, turn off the lights, and lock the door on your way out.
Congratulations on the sale of your home!