Closing Surprises for Buyers

After what can often be a long home buying process that included finding that perfect home, getting it under contract, and completing a myriad of needed tasks before closing day, nobody wants to encounter any issues in their final walk-through or on closing day.

Most closings go off without a hitch, but with anything with as many players and moving parts as a real estate transaction, it’s always possible for something to get out-of-whack.

For those buyers that question the need for a buyer’s agent, this is another time during the transaction where, as your agent, I will really earn my keep! So don’t worry, there’s no need to panic! I’ve seen a lot of what can happen on closing day before. Together, we’ll get any issues resolved, so you can still head to the closing table in a timely manner.

It’s always helpful to get a sneak peek of what kinds of things “could” happen, however. Here are 8 “surprises” that could pop up on closing day:

    A Mountain of Trash at the Curb

    For sellers, moving often means getting rid of a lot of junk/trash that has accumulated over the years. As a buyer, if you head over to the house for your final walk-through on closing day and see a line of trash bags at the curb, you might want to make sure it’s going to be picked up by the trash collectors before signing on the dotted line. Once you own the house, you own the trash at the curb and will have to deal with it if the garbage truck keeps driving right on by because it’s more than they’ll accept.

    As your agent, 1) having gone by the house before the final walkthrough or closing day, I would be able to hopefully, have it addressed before that time, or 2) coordinate with the seller agent to ensure that the seller has either hired someone to swing by and haul it away before closing, or 3) coordinate with the seller and Title Company for the seller to set aside some money in escrow to cover any expenses you may incur if you have to hire someone to do it.

    The Seller Hasn’t Moved Out Yet

    Sellers will sometimes not give themselves enough time to pack up and move. As a result, at the final walk-through buyers can find them and/or their movers still in the house frantically trying to vacate the premises. The final walk-through is the buyer’s opportunity to make sure the house is in the same condition as when they previously saw it, and to visually double-check that any and all requested repairs were indeed satisfactorily completed. A buyer can’t do that effectively if the seller hasn’t completed their move-out.

    If they only need a few hours, I suggest pushing the closing back and re-doing the final walk-through once they’re out before heading to closing. If it looks like they will need a day or more, I recommend rescheduling closing to another day… and yes, that will mean new settlement numbers will need to be drawn up by Title and your mortgage lender (i.e. interest and property taxes accumulate daily). I would not recommend closing and having seller still moving out… not even with holding back money. The complicated mess that could ensue should the house be damaged somehow by the seller or their movers once you own the home just isn’t worth it.

    The Seller Took Something They Were Supposed to Leave

    The contract between you and the seller is specific on what is supposed to stay (convey) with the house upon its sale. So, what happens if during your final walkthrough, it is discovered that something that is supposed to be included in the purchase isn’t there (i.e. refrigerator)? It could be an honest mistake, but the seller will need to replace it before closing, or, credit you enough to replace it once you take possession after closing.

    Here is another point where, as your agent, I’d be earning my fee. If the item in question is, for example, a dishwasher, and they have agreed to replace it before closing, is it working? Draining properly? Have you ever seen a dishwasher leak and flood a kitchen? Not pretty. During that inspection you had done way back at the beginning of the contract period, the dishwasher’s running was checked. So, what about the new one? You’ll be glad you’ve got me on your side.

    The Seller Didn’t Fix Something They Agreed to Repair

    Ideally the seller will forward proof that they repaired or replaced any agreed-upon home inspection issues well ahead of closing day. But whether they did or not, you still want to make sure everything they promised to fix or replace was taken care of before heading to the closing.

    If you find something wasn’t repaired or replaced, I’ll coordinate with the seller and Title Company in requesting money (from the seller’s proceeds) to be held in escrow so you can take care of it once you close on the house (if it’s something minor or manageable). If it’s a major issue, I would be concerned with you having to take it on and would recommend delaying the closing until it’s resolved by the seller.

    The Lender Isn’t Wiring the Money

    If you’re borrowing money from a lender, they wire it to your title company on closing day. If the wire isn’t complete on time, this is almost completely out of your hands (unless they’re holding it up because you didn’t get them some needed paperwork). I work closely with my buyers’ lenders to ensure everything they need it in place before closing day. As a result, this is something that I have not personally encountered. Should it occur, it’s probably the lender being swamped, or dropping the ball, so don’t worry too much. I’ll coordinate with the lender and title company, and get the issue resolved.

    The Time Is Being Rescheduled

    A lot of people can be involved with a closing; title company reps, loan officers, attorneys, agents, the sellers who all need to be available for the closing.

    You should try to look at closing day as an entire day and clear your calendar. This will allow you to be flexible in the face of a shift in time needed to accommodate someone else’s schedule or address any hiccups that occur before the closing occurs.

    The Utilities Are Shut Off

    If you get to the house for the final walk-through, or even show up to it after the closing, and the lights won’t turn on, or the gas stove won’t light, don’t worry! It’s probably not something wrong with the electric panel or stove, and just a matter of not having transferred the utilities into your name, and the previous owner having them turned off.

    To avoid this, well before closing, I will be advising you on contacting the utility companies to ensure they have the order to transfer service into your name so even if the seller cancels their service early, it should avoid any service interruptions.

    You Suddenly Realize How Much You’ll Miss Seeing Your Agent!

    As your buyers’ agent, I’ll become a huge part of your life during the process of buying a home! It’s common to speak with your agent more times in a day than you do with your best friend in a week while you’re working together. In fact, you might even feel like your agent is your bestie!1

    I know there has been a lot of conversation out there recently about buyers’ agents, commissions, and the like. I hope the information above, which talks to only a few of issues that could be encountered, and just at the end of buying process, helps to demonstrate the benefits of having me as a buyer’s agent on your side.

    If you’re thinking about buying (or selling) a house, contact me and let’s talk about your situation and how I can help you with your real estate goals.

    1. 8 Closing Day Surprises You Might Experience When Buying a Home, and How to Deal With Them ( ↩︎

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