When you are buying or selling a home in Northern Virginia, if everything goes smoothly you will find yourself at a closing or settlement table either in a lawyer's office, or more likely at a settlement or title company. If you've followed my buyer's or seller's flowcharts, you see that the final step is the settlement.
Many Northern Virginia homebuyers and some sellers are confused about what occurs at settlement and have misconceptions of the procedures. Some people picture a crowded room with buyers, sellers, attorneys, Realtors, mounds of paperwork, lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!
How long does a settlement last? Who is involved? Where is it held? What paperwork is signed? What must you bring with you to settlement? When will the seller get the proceeds of the sale?
Real Estate Settlements in Northern Virginia
WHO?: In Virginia, the following parties are typically together in the room at settlement:
- Listing Real Estate Agent
- Buyer's Real Estate Agent
- Settlement Officer or Settlement Attorney
Unlike some states, it is not necessary to have your own attorney present to represent you at settlement, though if you expect major problems to arise, it may be wise to have your own counsel. One thing to note is that the Settlement Attorney does not represent either party in a home sale transaction, but rather represents the transaction.
Many local lenders will also attend settlements with their clients to assist with any financing questions that may arise. Especially with first-time homebuyers, I have found that the presence of a loan officer at the settlement can ease some of the buyer's anxieties.
WHAT: Many documents will be signed at the closing. The buyer will have much more paperwork than the seller to sign, and usually the settlement officer will run through the seller's side of the transaction first, so that the seller can leave while the buyer finishes up their lengthy paperwork.
- Seller's Documents:
- Deed -- seller will sign the deed which conveys the property from them to the new owners
- HUD-1 Settlement Statement -- seller signs this important document which details all of the important financial details of the sale transaction including price, closing costs, taxes and fees
- Payoff Authorizations -- seller will sign authorizations for the settlement company to payoff their mortgages from the proceeds of the sale
- Tax Forms -- seller signs IRS tax forms to report the sale for federal income tax purposes
2. Buyer's Documents:
- Deed -- buyer signs the deed recognizing the conveyance of the property
- HUD-1 Settlement Statement -- buyer signs this document detailing the financial details of the sales transaction
- Note -- this is a document which evidences the mortgage loan
- Deed of Trust -- this document is secures payment of the loan
- Truth in Lending Statement -- lender discloses all the finance charges
- Survey -- shows all easements, property boundaries, encumbrances on the property, etc.
- Mortgage Application -- buyer signs copy of the original mortgage application ensuring no changes since application was made
- W-9 -- IRS tax form authorizing mortgage interest write-off and reporting purchase
- Termite Inspection Report -- buyer signs report detailing whether or not there were any wood-destroying insects or damage.
The Settlement Attorney or Officer will go through all the paperwork with both parties explain each document's purpose, answer questions, and make sure each party signs and initials where applicable.
What must you bring with you to settlement? All parties signing documents will need their photo identification (driver's license, passport, etc.) so that the documents can be properly notarized. The buyer must bring a cashier's check for the appropriate amount payable to the settlement company, and a seller should bring a canceled check or deposit slip so they can have their proceeds wired to their bank account. Sellers should also bring the keys to the home which are required to be exchanged at settlement.
WHEN: Most closings are held Monday through Friday during normal working hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some settlement offices will hold after hours closings, but typically you should expect to make yourself available during the weekly work hours.
The length of a settlement depends upon the complexity of the transaction and if there are any issues that need to be addressed. However, the average residential real estate settlement lasts about an hour.
When is the money due? When do sellers get their proceeds? Funds for the purchaser are required to be at the settlement office for closing. That means the money from the lender should be wired to the settlement company and the buyer brings a cashier's check for the down payment and closing costs to the table. In Virginia, sellers do not get their proceeds immediately at the closing table. This is different from some other states. In Virginia, the deed must first be recorded at the courthouse which does not happen until after settlement. In addition, Virginia's Wet Settlement Act provides that the settlement must disburse fund to the proper parties within two business days after all the funds are collected and deposited in the settlement company's trust account.
WHERE: Settlements are held either in a settlement attorney's office or at a settlement or title company. With special arrangement, some settlements can be held at the home or other location with a traveling settlement agent.
95% of real estate transactions go very smoothly and everybody shakes hands at the settlement table.
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