The Real Estate
Did you ever think this day would arrive?
Finally, that home you've been dreaming about is going to
be yours and you will officially be a resident of Martha's
Vineyard Island. You're a little anxious and wondering what's
going to happen at the closing. Will you have everything
you need in order for the closing to go smoothly? Hopefully,
between your exclusive buyer's agent and your attorney,
you have nothing to worry about. But to quote Yogi Berra,
"It ain't over till it's over".
What if something goes wrong? Normally, problems surface
before a closing and not at the closing table, but sometimes
the loan docs arrive at the last minute and the loan everyone
thought was approved was not, or the purchaser cannot comply
with the lender's terms. Buyers have been known to show
up at closing in the hope that the seller will reduce the
price in order to close. Although there have been cases
where the seller may be willing to take less money in order
for the deal to go through, because they already went ahead
in good faith with their own plans, I would bet on having
success. If the deal doesn't close, everyone loses.
A more common problem that can arise, especially with Martha's
Vineyard real estate, is a title problem. Here again, evidence
of this should surface well before the closing and hopefully
be remedied by the time of the closing. If the title cannot
be perfected in time for the closing an extension may be
granted to allow the seller to clear the defect. The defect
could be as a result of a lien or an inaccurate survey dating
back decades, or an owner in the title chain that never
signed off on a deed. This is why I feel it is important
to research the title back as far as records allow and certainly
more than 50 years. The horror stories abound ranging
from sellers who are not the rightful owners to messy divorces
where a friend impersonates a spouse so that the sale can
go through without the true spouse's knowledge. Today it
is quite common for the attorney's to request proof of identity
in the form of a photo ID.
This leads to a good question; what do you need to bring
to the closing? You have your photo ID? As I explained before,
you will need your new homeowner's insurance policy and
that FAT CHECK --- a cashier's check made out by the bank
to the proper party. The check may be made out to the seller
directly or to the seller's attorney. Make sure you get
that information correctly.
The settlement sheet is a document which lists all of the
closing costs and the particulars of your loan. If you'd
like a preview of a settlement sheet, the Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has conveniently put
one online. You'll find it by clicking
here (Note: You will need the Adobe Acrobat reader,
available free online, to view it). You can also go to The
HUD-1 to view a detailed explanation of buyer credits
and debits commonly associated with the closing.
WHO WILL BE AT THE CLOSING?
Naturally, you and the seller will be there, or those given
power of attorney for you and/or the seller. It happens
quite often that neither party is present at the closing
and every thing is handled in what is called a "mail closing".
I don't know why they don't call it a FedEx closing since
FedEx is the one expediting documents back and forth and
a frenzied shuffle. Your exclusive buyer's agent will be
there as will the seller's agent, because they want to get
paid and the attorneys will be there to make sure the deal
gets done --- they want to get paid too.
HOW LONG WILL THE CLOSING TAKE?
It will seem as if the closing goes on forever, especially
since you have a van full of furniture waiting outside along
with screaming kids and a barking dog. Assuming that everything
goes smoothly, the closing should only take about one hour.
I mean after all, how long does it take to hand around a
bunch of checks and sign a dozen documents? You can tell
when the end is near because everyone is starting to relax
and everyone is smiling. Congratulations, you are home.
THE PASSING OF THE BATON
The seller is advised not to cancel homeowner's insurance
until recordation has occurred, which is to say, the sale
of the house has officially been recorded at Dukes County
Registry of Deeds in Edgartown. This usually takes place
within 24 hours of the sale.