What Is Closing?
Closing is the final phase of a transaction between two parties. A closing typically refers to the final phase of a homebuying process in which the buyer receives the deeds and the seller receives the payment. Both parties sign the final documents to officialize the transaction.
Learn more about a closing works, including in the mortgage and homebuying process.
- Closing is the final phase of a transaction, typically for mortgage loan processing.
- In closing a mortgage, the property title passes from the seller to the buyer.
- During the closing process is also called settlement or account settlement.
- At closing, you review, authorize, and date numerous legal documents to complete the property purchase.
- Required closing documents include the closing disclosure, promissory note, and deed of trust.
How Closing Works
Closing is the final step in the homebuying process in which the mortgage becomes official and the title is transferred to new owners. A closing agent, usually an attorney or official from a title or mortgage company, oversees the closing process, which takes place at a title company or escrow office.
The mortgage closing process varies from state to state. This process is called a closing because the escrow account used to complete the property purchase process gets closed. During closing, also called settlement or account settlement, the participants review, authorize, and date numerous legal documents.
Required Closing Documents
Here are the typical required closing documents you will likely face at the closing table:
- Required by federal law, the closing disclosure or statement lists all costs related to the property purchase, including loan fees, real estate taxes, and other expenses.
- The promissory note details the loan amount, interest rate, payment schedule, and length of the term. It also lists the penalties the lender can impose if the borrower fails to make mortgage payments.
- The deed of trust is a security instrument and also may be referred to as a mortgage, depending on the state where the property is located. The signed deed of trust pledges the property as security for a loan.
- In purchasing a property, a deed or document that transfers property ownership (or the title) is needed.
- The notice of right to cancel provides each borrower under the transaction a three-day window to cancel the new mortgage loan. If you are purchasing a property with a mortgage loan, once the closing documents are signed, you do not have the right to cancel.
Closing Protection Insurance
A closing protection letter or insured closing letter is a contract between a title insurance underwriter and a lender. The underwriter agrees to indemnify the lender for actual losses caused by certain kinds of misconduct by the closing agent.
Title underwriters often authorize closing agents to issue these letters to lenders when the closing agent anticipates issuing the underwriter’s title insurance policies in the transaction. Most letters explicitly make a third-party beneficiary out of the borrower in a purchase transaction.
Typical closing protection letter provisions cover failure to follow written closing instructions, to the extent that the instructions affect the validity, priority, or enforceability of the mortgage lien, require the closing agent to obtain, but not to vouch for the validity or effectiveness, of a specific document, or relate to the collection of funds due to the lender. The letter also covers fraud or dishonesty in handling the lender’s funds or documents.
What Is a Closing Disclosure?
A closing disclosure, required by federal law for real estate transactions, is a five-page form that reviews the details of your mortgage. The information will include details about your monthly payments and loan terms as well as any associated fees. You should receive this letter at least three days before closing.
What If There Are Errors in Your Closing Documents?
Review your closing documents carefully to ensure they are correct. Check the loan terms, interest rates, and loan amount. Make sure your name is spelled correctly and your address is correct as well. If you do find an error, contact your lender immediately to have it corrected. Always ask to see documents in advance before signing them.
When Can You Move In After Closing?
Generally, you can move into your new property immediately after closing. In some cases, a buyer may ask to take possession earlier, which would require the seller taking on a risk that the buyer’s financing may not be approved. In other cases, the possession date may be set later than closing.
The Bottom Line
Closing is the final phase of a transaction, typically involving real estate. Understanding what occurs during the typical closing process will help the process go smoother. If you are approaching closing in your homebuying process, make sure you are ready to sign multiple documents to ensure the property officially becomes yours.