Closing on a home, otherwise known as the closing process, is when ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. It’s the last step of a long, but rewarding, process. The official moment when the deal is done, and ownership is fully transferred, is known as the closing date. When selling your home, working with a REALTOR® is beneficial because of their expertise in everything from landing a listing price to helping you through the closing process.
If you’ve reached the closing process, it means you’ve found a buyer, negotiated contracts, and are ready to start a new chapter in your life. Buyers have a lot to prepare for during the closing process, but there are still many things sellers need to consider. We spoke with Kaia Penaluna, a REALTOR® with 2 Percent Realty in Kelowna, British Columbia, for some pointers on what sellers are responsible for during the closing process.
Final walk-through, repairs, and moving
During the closing period, the buyer and their REALTOR® will complete a final walk-through of the property. Penaluna says this is known as the viewed date. This is an important moment because on the closing day, the property has to be in the same condition as it was on the day of the final walk-through.
“Other than regular maintenance, there can’t be any changes made to the home, intended or not, without the buyer’s authorization at that point”, says Penaluna.
She adds maintenance includes the interior and exterior, therefore the lawn has to be kept in good shape as well as any outdoor landscaping. When considering the interior, the buyer is only purchasing the home and any included items (chattels) as laid out in the offer. As a seller, it’s important you remove everything not being left for the buyer—in other words, you can’t just leave behind things you don’t want to move. Penaluna also says if you’re hiring movers and won’t be present for the move, be sure they know what appliances to leave behind (if any).
Standardly, any repairs made before the home transfer are laid out in the contract. However, as much as we plan for the best, sometimes the unexpected happens. If after the viewed date something breaks, like a toilet or a sink, it’s important to notify your REALTOR® immediately to figure out the next steps. This usually involves your REALTOR® notifying the buyer and their REALTOR®, and ultimately coming to an agreement on how the issue will be resolved. In these instances, Penaluna says “there wouldn’t be a close without proof that the work is done”.
The dos and don’ts of closing
During the closing period, there should be no major work done to the property and sellers should be careful not to damage the home. Moreover, Penaluna adds “sellers cannot leave the country without letting their lawyer know.” If you plan on being out of the country during closing, be sure that all of your documents are in order and ready to go.
Also, as you prepare to move out, “be sure to have a copy of all of the exterior door keys for the buyer,” says Penaluna. Also make sure to notify any subscription services, such as home insurance, utility, and internet companies that you’ll be leaving the address. Finally, have your mail forwarded to your new home so you don’t miss out on anything important.
How long does the process take?
“The closing process from offer to the closing date can be as little as two weeks to as long as one or two months,” says Penaluna. It depends on whether the house is vacant, as well as the time of the year. Some issues that could delay a closing include home inspections, appraisals and financing issues.
Closing on a home comes with many emotions!It’s exciting, and yes, it can be a little bit stressful, especially if it’s your first home sale. A REALTOR® can help you to make sound decisions because they’re coming with years of experience, data and neighbourhood insights. When you’re selling, they’re your right-hand person and take care of any small details that could slip your mind.
So, if you’re on the first step of the journey to selling your home, be sure to contact your REALTOR® and get ready for moving onto bigger and better things.