It’s a wonderful feeling: you’ve finally found the perfect home and the only thing left to do is close the deal. Going to the closing table, especially for the first time, can be a little intimidating. Try to think of the closing process not as a hurdle, but as the bridge to owning your new home.

Almost every first-time homebuyer—and many seasoned homeowners—have questions about the closing process. We’ve compiled answers to the most common questions, designed to help you sit down at the closing table with confidence.

What is closing on a home?

First things first. The closing is a scheduled meeting and your final opportunity to review the transaction and make any changes. When the deal is finalized, you’ll leave the closing table as the legal owner of the property—with the keys to your new home in hand.

What do I need to do before closing?

Preparation is a great way to maintain control—and it helps to ensure that all goes off without a hitch. Staying organized during the home buying process really pays off.

Before you reach the closing table, there are few things you must do, as well as number of items that are not required, but are still a good idea. First, your home must be appraised, which will be ordered by your lender. Unless you pay cash for the home, your lender will also run a title search, which is typically done by a title company, and ensures that you can actually own the house outright free and clear of any liens. It’s also prudent to hire a home inspector to conduct a home inspection—to safeguard against any material defects. Finally, you must secure the necessary insurance, which can vary depending on where you live.

Many home-sale contracts allow you to do a final walkthrough of your new property within 24 hours of closing, so take advantage of this. A final home walkthrough affords the opportunity to make sure your home is still in good condition, and the previous owner has completely vacated the premises.

What do I need to bring to closing?

First and foremost, come to your closing prepared with a state-issued photo ID (and in some cases, two forms of ID may be required).

Bring the paperwork you’ve accumulated over the entire home-buying process, including proof of relevant insurance. Your real estate agent or loan specialist will be able to provide more detailed instructions specific to your situation.

Finally, you will need to bring a certified or cashier’s check for amount of your closing costs. Your lender will advise you of the exact amount. The down payment is typically paid prior to closing—usually within a specified time period after the seller has accepted your offer.

What happens at closing?

Depending on the location, you’ll meet with an agent from the title company or an attorney and, in all likelihood, the seller. Your real estate agent and/or your attorney are welcome to attend the closing with you. As experienced professionals, they will be able to help you navigate the entire closing process.

You will then sign a number of documents that legally transfer the home to your name and obligate you on the purchase loan. Most importantly, when all the paperwork is signed, you will walk out of the office with the keys to your new home in your possession.

How long will closing take?

This will depend on a number of factors, but plan to spend at least 1-2 hours at closing. It’s an important process, and the closing documents are reviewed in detail. It’s certainly not the time to schedule a “quick meeting” during your lunch hour. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to make sure things run smoothly.

How much are closing costs?

Your closing costs refer to the out-of-pocket money needed to complete the mortgage transaction. Naturally, closing costs will vary depending on several factors, including the purchase price of your home, and sometimes its location, too.

However, some types of mortgages will allow these expenses to be included in the mortgage amount. And in some cases you may even be able to negotiate some of these costs to be paid by the seller.

Have another question that’s not covered here? A ditech Home Loan Specialist can help you clear things up. Call 1-800-700-9212 to get in touch.

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