Closing day in a house deal is a milestone for both the seller and the buyer. To make it go smoothly, it is very important that both buyer and the seller are properly prepared.
Here's a checklist if you are selling:
1. Make sure you have given your lawyer a copy of any deed, mortgage, survey and current property tax bills. You should have received these from your lawyer when you bought the house.
2. Do not cancel your household insurance policy until you have heard that the deal has closed. Also, if you are moving out more than 30 days before closing, you need to notify your insurer that the home will be vacant. This way, you will still be covered if anything happens in the home up to the closing date.
3. You will visit your lawyer a few days before closing to sign the papers.
Make sure you give one set of keys to give to your lawyer, which will be passed on to buyer's lawyer at closing.
4. If you are a non-resident of Canada, you must obtain a certificate from Canada Revenue Agency regarding any income tax payable, or else the buyer will be holding back 25 per cent of the sale price until you do get it. Non-resident means you have not lived in Canada at least 183 total days in the past year before the closing day. This can take up to two months so let your lawyer know right away so that the proper application can be filed.
5. Have all your utility meters read on the day of closing. That way you will only be responsible for your share of utilities. Also notify your cable and telephone provider so that your service can be disconnected. If your house is heated with an oil tank, you need to make arrangements to fill the tank on the closing day.
6. Cancel any pre-authorized or postdated cheques at your bank, to make sure you don't pay for anything after closing.
7. As you have to be out of the property when it closes, arrange to move out before 5 p.m.
Here's a checklist if you are buying:
1. Schedule your pre-closing visit shortly before closing, so that you can conduct your final inspection to make sure that the home is in the same condition as when you signed the offer.
2. Arrange moving time late in the afternoon, as that is likely when the seller will have moved out. If it is a condominium, and you need use of the elevator, contact the management company well in advance of closing to reserve the elevator.
3. Fire insurance must be arranged for the full replacement cost of the home. If it is a condominium, you need a policy to protect your contents and liability. Do not leave this to the last minute.
4. If you are arranging a mortgage for less than 20 per cent down, the bank will be deducting certain costs, such as mortgage insurance, appraisal fees and HST. Find out early what all these deductions will be, as you will have to come up with any difference needed to close your deal. Make sure you have provided the lender with all required proof of income, or down payment well in advance so that it does not delay the money.
5. Your lawyer will be receiving a statement of adjustments just before closing. This could add to your closing costs if the seller has prepaid some expenses, especially property taxes. Find out exactly what this is as it can add up to 0.5 per cent more to what you may owe.
6. You will need to deliver, at least 2 days before closing, the balance of money needed for your lawyer to close the deal, by certified cheque, money order or bank draft.
7. Let the lawyer know how you will be taking title to the property. If you take as joint tenants and one of you passes away, the other party immediately becomes the owner. If you take as tenants in common, you can transfer your interest to a beneficiary under your will.
8. Tell your lawyer to order title insurance for you. This will protect your property against title defects, survey issues, work orders and frauds while you own the property.
9. Arrange for your cable and telephone providers to install service on the day of closing or immediately after closing.
10. Contact the utility companies, to make sure they read the meters on closing, so that you are only responsible for charges after you move in.
Being prepared in advance will ease the stress of closing day and hopefully begin the creation of happy memories for you and your family.
Mark Weisleder is a lawyer, author and speaker to the real estate industry. Email mark at firstname.lastname@example.org