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Seven Steps to Prepare For Closing on a House

Key takeaway

Closing day on your home is typically between four and eight weeks after your purchase contract is accepted. Taking care of important tasks, such as getting a home inspection and finalizing your closing payment, may help the process go more smoothly so you can get your keys and move in.

You’ve found your first home and the seller has accepted your purchase offer on it. Congratulations! Now it’s time to start preparing for closing day.

What is closing day? That’s when you’ll finalize the purchase of the home, sign all the necessary documents (including the final paperwork for your loan), and receive the keys to your home.

Closing day is typically scheduled four to eight weeks after your offer is accepted. The sooner you start preparing, the smoother your closing may be. Here are seven actions to take — and guidance on when to take them — to prepare for closing.

Step 1: Schedule a home inspection

When: Immediately after your offer is accepted

Often, the purchase agreement between you and the seller is contingent on a home inspection. You’ll want to schedule the home inspection as soon as the offer is accepted so you can make repair agreements with the seller. Use your homebuying team for recommendations of two or three home inspectors so you can choose the one who best meets your needs.

Step 2: Purchase homeowners insurance

When: Within a few days after your offer is accepted

Most lenders require buyers to have homeowners insurance, and it’s a smart way to protect your home and belongings. An insurance agent can help you learn more about the minimum amount of insurance you need for the value of the home you’re buying and to meet the lender’s requirements. They can talk with you about additional coverage options that will insure your belongings and provide other protections. You may also need to purchase flood insurance for your new home, depending on the location. The National Flood Insurance Program has more information about flood insurance.

Step 3: Meet with your lender

When: Within a week of your offer being accepted

During this meeting, ask your lender about scheduling the appraisal. Your lender will work with an appraiser to determine how much your new home is worth. It is important to move quickly in this stage so your loan application can be approved by a mortgage underwriter (the person who reviews your financial and other required documents in order to determine if you are eligible for the loan you are requesting).

Step 4: Prepare your loan application documents

When: Within 10 days of your offer being accepted

You may already have most of the necessary documents put together if you went through the preapproval process. If so, great! That makes this step easier. You should give yourself time to obtain copies of any missing documents, if necessary.

The lender will want you to provide payroll vouchers, W-2 forms, investment and bank account information, details of the homeowners insurance you’ve purchased, recent tax returns, a copy of the purchase agreement, and your identification. You may also need to provide documents related to income, like child support or alimony, or to large transfers into your accounts as you’re bringing together your down-payment money.

You may want to consider making digital copies of your paperwork with scanning apps available on many mobile devices for safekeeping and easy access. Many lenders make it easy for you to upload some of the documents online and some even have the ability to securely and seamlessly import your information. That said, keeping paper copies safe in a file box is a good choice, too, because many lenders still require paper copies.

Step 5: Review the Closing Disclosure

When: Three days before closing

You should receive the Closing Disclosure from your lender at least three days before closing. This document provides an opportunity to double-check your loan details, so be sure to review it carefully. Pay attention to items such as the loan terms and costs, and make sure they match what you agreed to in the loan estimate. The Closing Disclosure will also outline buyer and seller costs; make sure this matches your purchase offer. If you have any questions, talk to your lender as soon as possible before closing day. If you plan to pay your closing costs via a wire transfer, be sure to put the order in 24–72 hours before you need it.

Step 6: Schedule your final walkthrough

When: Twenty-four hours before closing

Work with your Realtor to schedule a final walk-through of the home to ensure everything is as you expect. If you find problems — such as repairs not completed, or items missing that should have been included — have your Realtor contact the seller. Find out how the seller plans to correct the problems or if they will give you a closing cost credit to make up for the problems. If you don’t plan to pay your closing costs via a wire transfer, you will need to bring a cashier’s check to the closing meeting. You can get one from your bank.

Step 7: Bring identification and funds

When: Day of closing

Make sure to bring government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport — your lender can tell you what type of identification is needed. Also, be prepared to pay the down payment and other closing costs. When everything goes according to plan, make sure to enjoy the moment.

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