One commonly misused term among brokers in the real estate business is the word “closing”. Realtors® often refer to the document signing time as if they were “going to a closing” which is inaccurate and which can create misunderstandings with buyers and sellers as their transaction nears a conclusion. For example, without a clear understanding of the terminology, a seller may show up at the closers office (usually a title company or real estate attorney) fully expecting to walk away that day with a check in hand. A similarly uninformed buyer may have his moving van parked out in front of the house fully expecting to be able to move in as soon as they sign a few documents and deliver a down payment to the closer. Neither of these expectations are reality!
Closing is officially defined in the state-wide purchase and sale agreement as “the date on which all documents are recorded and the sale proceeds are available to the Seller.” That date is almost NEVER the day they sign papers. Closing usually occurs the day after documents are signed unless the signing happens late on a Friday and the recording office is closed until the following Monday. In that case it can be several days from signing before the closing occurs. When legal holidays occur in the midst of that process, it can delay the closing even further. The point is the signing day is probably NOT the closing day.
Featured prominently on the front page of the Residential Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement is a line labeled, “Closing Date”. Remember, that is the day when documents are officially recorded at the court house and the seller can get their hands on the money. There are a lot of things that need to happen between the “born-on-date” of the agreement and the specified closing date, including a wet-ink -signing.
Unless otherwise agreed, the seller must be prepared to be completely removed from the property by 9 p.m. on that specified closing date. In order for a timely closing, all documents must be signed by all parties and ALL necessary components should be in place at least one day prior to the closing date in order for the closing to happen on time. Frustrations often arise at the last hour when closings are postponed for a myriad of reasons. If you are currently involved in a transaction, ask your Realtor® to clarify the process.