Home Seller Closing Checklist
Over the years many owners have asked me “what do I need to do before closing on my home?” You don’t have to make a checklist to follow before you close on the home – but you should.
As a seller you are juggling a thousand things at once, and under a considerable amount of stress as you do it.
It is much easier to check off the tasks on a list than it is to try and remember every thing you need to do before you walk away from your old home.
Once your home has gone under contract, you’ll want to start preparing for your closing. Things can easily fall through the cracks if you are not careful.
There are some obligations on your part as a seller that you’re going to need to complete. Some of your closing responsibilities can vary depending on the state in which you are located in.
If you are selling a home for the first time these tips will really come in handy.
For example, here in Massachusetts, the seller is responsible for the following items before they can close on their home.
- Smoke/Carbon Monoxide certificate – the seller must have their smoke detectors inspected prior to closing. Part of the inspection will also include have working carbon monoxide detectors as well. Take a look at the reference to get a complete understanding of what you will need to do to make your home compliant. Some states require the certificate, others do not.
- Septic system inspection – In many states, a seller will be required to test to make sure their septic system is functioning properly. The buyer will be provided a report saying that the septic is functioning property. This is what’s know as a Title V certification. Many sellers will jump on this even before listing their home for sale. It’s a big relief to pass!
- Passing well inspection – A well test is something that may or may not be required in your state. Quite often it is the buyers responsibility to test the well. There are, however, some locations where the seller will be required to test their well and provide the buyer with passing results.
These are three significant inspections. You should consult with your real estate agent to see if they are required in your state. You’ll also need to find out if they are your responsibility or the buyers. If these items are your responsibility jump on them as soon as practical.
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1. Gather your closing documents.
Hopefully your closing agent or escrow officer will keep all your documents in one place and give them to you, but that may not happen. You definitely want to make sure you have all your documents accessible and safe should you need them later – you probably won’t, but if you do you will be thankful you have them.
The closing statement, seller disclosures, purchase contract and other documents should all be kept. If you do wind up in a situation where you need the documents, like if a bill is not paid, or if the buyer has an attorney requesting them, you will be ready.
Quite often in real estate sales their might be an agreement between the buyer and seller about repairs discovered during a home inspection. You will want to provide documentation to the buyer that these repairs were completed. Quite often the lender will also want a record of the repairs as well. Keep this at the top of your closing checklist.
2. Notify everyone you are moving.
One of the most important things to put on your closing checklist is who to notify of your address change. There are countless people and businesses that you should notify of your impending move.
Your life can become really stressful when important bills and documents are not getting to your new address. Make sure you take care of your address change as soon as you’re confident the sale will be going through.
The worst part of selling your home is more than likely going to be packing up the home and the actual move itself. To ease some of the burden take a look at these moving tips. By following the advice you may be able to alleviate at least a little bit of the stress.
3. Cancel your insurance.
There is no reason to keep paying for insurance that you do not need. Definitely wait until the title has transferred or the deed has been recorded, because until then you may be financially liable for problems.
But once you are sure ownership has officially changed hands, contact your insurance agent and cancel the policy on the home. If you prepaid your premium, you can expect a refund for the unused portion.
If you are going to be purchasing another home in a different state take a look at who is handling your car insurance. One of the best home insurance savings tips is to combine your home and car insurance with the same carrier. Doing so can help save quite a bit of money.
4. Cancel utilities.
Unless you let the utility companies know that you have moved out, they are going to keep charging you even after the buyer moves in. The easiest way to take care of all your house-specific bills is to gather all the phone numbers or websites into one place, like on your checklist, so you can go through them one after the other and cancel them. Here are some tips for canceling utilities.
Many companies will let you cancel online now, sometimes even setting a cancellation date ahead of time, so check online before you wait on hold. Be prepared to give the utility company the name of your buyer and the closing date. These are two pieces of information they will almost always ask.
4. Clean thoroughly.
Here is another tip that is worth following for good karma – one you can hope the seller you buy from will also follow. Once all your stuff is out of the house, give it a good cleaning. You can also hire a cleaning service if you do not have the time to clean, or if you just don’t want to.
However it gets clean, the buyer will greatly appreciate being able to move right in without having to wipe up soap scum, clean mirrors, sweep, mop, etc.
Most standard purchase agreements will say the home needs to be transferred in “broom clean” condition. Over the years of selling real estate, I have noticed most sellers will go above and beyond this standard.
5. Put all the keys, remotes, etc., in one place.
Yes, the buyer is probably going to change the locks on the home. But until the locks are changed, they are going to need the keys. They are also going to need any remotes, like for the ceiling fan or garage door opener, to get full use out of the house.
You can collect all the keys and controllers and put them in a drawer where the buyer will find them.
6. Collect all the manuals, warranties and receipts for appliances.
When the buyer purchases your home, usually he or she is also purchasing most of your appliances. You can make it easier on them by gathering all of the manuals, warranties and receipts for those appliances in one location – maybe even a large envelope – so the buyer can easily access them. The buyer will really appreciate this gesture.
7. Shut off valves.
A little leak can turn into a flooded home quickly if it is not discovered. Since you want to deliver the home in good condition, it is prudent to shut off all the valves you can to prevent flooding. If you know where the main water valve is you can shut it off, or you can go to each of the sinks, toilets, etc., and shut off their valves. You can even do both.
Just make sure you let the buyer know by leaving a note what you have done so he or she does not think something is wrong with the home.
8. Possibly walk through with the buyer.
You know your home better than anyone, so it makes sense to walk through with the buyer and give them tips and pointers that only you can give. After all, you would hope that the seller of the next home would do the same for you.
Let them know about any quirks, like reversed light switches, the burner that is hard to light, etc. You can also let them know about any home improvements you really wanted to make to get more out of the property. Will this is not mandatory by any means, lots of buyers appreciate it.
9. Personally look over everything one more time.
You don’t want to leave anything behind when you leave the home for the final time, so it is advisable to do a once-over. Even if your spouse or your friend has looked over everything, it is still worthwhile for you to look over everything personally.
Search all the drawers, cupboards, storage spaces and anywhere else you can think of just to make sure you didn’t leave anything behind.
One of the biggest hold-ups for the closing taking place as planned is the seller leaving personal property behind that the new owner does not want. Keep in mind the difference between personal property and real property. As crazy as it sounds there will be buyers who do not want your left over paint, gardening tools and cleaning products.
If you are considering leaving behind any personal property make sure you clear it with your real estate agent first. Also make sure you do not take things that should convey with the home!
Over the years there have been sellers who have taken things like a favorite light that was not excluded from the sale. You cannot take fixtures.
10. Close everything up.
Once you are sure you have everything out of the home, have cleaned properly and have left the buyer what you can to ease the move-in process, go ahead and close up the home. Go through and shut off all the lights, pull the curtains closed, unplug anything that is plugged in, and lock the windows and the doors.
Taking all these steps will deter break ins and help to avoid any accidents while no one is in the home. That way the buyer, when he or she does arrive, will find exactly what he or she is looking for – a clean, functional home, ready to be occupied.
11. What to bring to closing.
Now that you are out the door and heading to closing make sure you have the following with you:
- Your license – anyone on the purchase and sale agreement is going to need to have a valid drivers license. Lenders do this to help prevent fraudulent conveyances.
- The deed to your home if you own it (no mortgage).
- Any unanswered questions regarding the HUD settlement statement.
- Your key to the home to give to the closing attorney or your real estate agent to hold until the home is on record.
- Any final utility bills to be paid or collected on. For example, if you have public water you’re going to need to provide a final paid receipt. If you have oil heating, it’s customary to provide a final oil reading. You will get reimbursed by the buyer for the oil left in the tank.
12. Things to do after the closing.
You have just completed the whirlwind tour of selling your home and it feels great. The closing went off without a hitch and the new buyers are great people. While the closing checklist for your home sale is done, you are not totally out of the woods yet. There are things to do after selling your house that should be tackled immediately.
Take a look at the comprehensive list of items that you will want to finalize in the helpful reference above. Even though your home closing checklist is complete there are still things that should be finalized after closing.
Additional Helpful Home Selling References
- Checklist for what you do after a closing via Kyle Hiscock.
- Using checklists in real estate via Paul Sian.
- Checklist for finding your next home via Fred Franks.
- Checklist of what a real estate agent will do for you via Anita Clark.
Use these additional references to make sound financial decisions when selling a home!
About the author: The above Real Estate information on closing checklist for home sellers was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 30+ Years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.