Close of Escrow
You may recall when you were last a buyer that you were required to sign a pile of papers prior to closing and getting the keys to your new home. The good news is that, as a seller, the pile is much smaller. You will still need to consider such important things as notifying the utilities of your service cancellation. If you possess any leased equipment such as a security system or water heater for instance, you may ask of the buyer if they are interested in taking over the lease and coordinate appropriately.
The standard for condition of the property at the time of transfer is that it be maintained in “broom-swept” condition, i.e., clean throughout with no abandoned personal items, junk or debris. It’s okay to leave behind household items such as paint cans with existing paint colors so the new homeowners will have color samples. If there’s anything you intend to take with you that might be considered by buyers as needing to stay with the property, then it’s important to identify those items up front so there’s no confusion.
The buyers will have a right to conduct a pre-close walkthrough of the property a few short days prior to closing to ensure it has been appropriately maintained in the condition that they first viewed. If less than, they can certainly gum up the works by holding up close of escrow. An example of this might be the seller who has elected to leave behind construction or other debris with the hope or mindset that the buyer will “deal with it”. Well, you may find yourself holding the unexpected bill for the debris to be hauled away. Preparation and communication are the best antidotes to unexpected and often times expensive surprises.
On the day of closing, the buyer’s funds will be wired to escrow who will then confirm their receipt in escrow’s trust account. With receipt of funds, the pertinent documents, the lender’s note and deed of trust will be transported by courier to the county courthouse where they will be recorded by the clerk. Sometimes, this is done electronically. In either event, once escrow has received those recording numbers from the county, typically in mid-to-late afternoon, ownership transfers. Even if the contract states that ownership transfers by 9:00pm on the closing date, it really happens when the recording numbers arrive at escrow, so please make plans to vacate the property in the days prior to closing, not at the eleventh hour if it can be avoided. Things can get messy if, as the buyer is rolling up to the property in their moving van, you are still in the process of loading yours.