Congratulations, your offer has been accepted and you can’t wait to move into your new home. But don’t start celebrating yet. There is one final stage involved in purchasing a home - closing the deal.
Having your offer accepted does not mean the end of your real estate transaction. However, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done in order to "close the deal."
Closing involves many complicated and time-consuming legal manoeuvres, which is why you’ve hired professionals. Closing is the point at which ownership and usually possession of the property is transferred from the seller to you. It takes place after the parties involved agree that all legal and financial obligations have been met. Your lawyer and your Realtor will do much of the work for you.
Here is a checklist of what to expect as the process unfolds:
• Make sure a copy of the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale is sent to your lawyer right away. Your Realtor will usually do this for you. Your lawyer needs to see any conditions that exist, and the date you and the seller have agreed to close. The lawyer will ask you how you (and others involved in the purchase) want to be registered on the title to the property.
• Immediately begin satisfying any of the conditions of the agreement that require your action. These have definite dates attached to them and if you miss one you may have to arrange an extension or possibly risk losing the entire deal. As each condition is met, the Realtor will fill out a waiver form for signatures. Note that most lawyers won’t be doing many of the tasks they need to do for closing until the conditions are waived.
• After the conditions have been met, your lawyer will begin searching title to the property. This is an exercise of going back through government records to ensure a clear title that is transferable. Electronic registration and title insurance have significantly changed the way titles on properties are transferred.
• If you decide to have the home inspected, your offer should contain a condition that the property passes inspection. If no current land survey exists on the property, arrange for one soon. Your lender may require it, and you’ll want it for your own peace of mind, anyway.
• Before the closing date contact your insurance agent to arrange homeowner’s insurance coverage to become effective on the date of closing. Your agent can give you a letter, certifying coverage is in place. If you’re moving from your currently owned home to another, your agent will handle the homeowner’s insurance transfer for you.
• Your lawyer will then begin a title search on the property to be sure the seller has clear title and can transfer it to you without a problem. Hydro, gas and water companies will also be contacted by your lawyer to ensure there are no outstanding claims for unpaid bills before these utilities are transferred to your name.
• Other tasks your lawyer will perform include gathering reports, certificates and clearances from various government offices, ensuring the property taxes are up-to-date, local zoning and building restrictions have been met and there are no outstanding obligations or "liens" on personal property to be sold with the house. In other words, your lawyer will make sure you get what you agreed to buy.
• Your lawyer will review and verify the draft deed, statement of adjustments and other closing information provided by the seller’s lawyer, and will deal with any problems as they arise. A few days before closing, you will meet with your lawyer to review and sign the closing documents. You will be asked to provide a certified cheque to cover the costs involved.
On closing day, both lawyers will exchange documents, keys and cheques and your deed and mortgage will be registered at the local registry office. If all goes according to plan, you will be given the keys to your new home.