How to reduce the stress, time and effort of closing paperwork

Paperwork of any sort can be a headache — and when it comes to closing the sale on a home, first-timers might fear there isn’t an aspirin big enough.

Yes, there is paperwork involved in real estate transactions. But it’s there for good reason, to protect both buyer and seller. The good news is that properly approached, closing paperwork can be tamed.

“First and foremost, hire a good real estate attorney,” advises Eddie Tyner, general manager of “That’s the No. 1 thing a seller or buyer can do to ensure that the closing process goes smoothly.”

According to Tyner, most of the anxiety first-time buyers and sellers experience around closing occurs because they simply don’t know what to expect. “If you have a good attorney on your side, their job is to answer your questions, review the contract and protect your interests,” he says.

This is especially important for by-owner sellers because during closing, they will be dealing with the buyer’s appraiser and inspector — and this is where there are plenty of i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed.

FSBO Seller Empowered by the Process
Jeff Januszek, a social media marketing specialist who recently used to sell a condominium in downtown Cincinnati, says he experienced some of those closing-time fears. Januszek and his wife had already used the site to find the home they bought for their move to New Orleans and decided to take the plunge and become FSBO sellers, too.

“It all just clicked,” Januszek says. “The interface was awesome and super easy. I had my listing complete in probably about an hour. I started getting bites immediately — and a week or so later, I received an inquiry from the folks who (ultimately) bought it. It all happened so quickly. I had listed and sold within a month.”

Januszek adds that his condo sold for the asking price, which he described as a pleasant surprise. “I thought it would be a beat-down.”

He says that his decision to hire a good title agency was a major factor in his low-stress closing. “I thought I was going to get a whole bunch of extra paperwork sent to me and that someone would be calling and informing me of one additional fee after another,” Januszek recalls. “But that didn’t happen.”

Januszek estimates that it cost him about $700 to hire his title agency.

He also praised the online by-seller site for walking him through each step of the FSBO process. “There were the resources for what to do next, how to come up with the contract, how to take care of the title.”

The 6 Steps to Closing’s experts have created a six-step checklist to help by-owner sellers navigate the home sale closing process with a minimum of stress:

  1. Draw up a closing timeline.
  2. Do a self-inspection of your home to pinpoint problems before the buyer’s inspector arrives.
  3. Hire a real estate attorney and title company.
  4. Touch base with your buyer from time to time to make sure his or her mortgage is nearing approval.
  5. Make sure you’ve signed all required forms.
  6. If you’re still living in your home, arrange for movers early so you’re all set when the day to leave comes.

If They Can Do It, So Can You
Tyner, who used to sell his own home earlier this year, says that anybody willing to invest a little time and effort can successfully sell their own home.

Januszek concurs. “You do need to put the work into it,” he says. “It took some effort — but not that much effort. It was definitely worth it for me.”

And experienced experts can help keep it all hassle-free.

Read more: The FSBO Sellers Guide to Closing

Checklist FAQs Marketing Virtual Agent

Create a Great For Sale Listing To-Do List

A listing sheet will typically summarize all the key information about your home. Be sure to include:

Address, including municipality, county and school district


When the house was built

Number of rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms

Dimensions of each room

Best features of each room

Recent upgrades and improvements

Other appealing features, such as location


And make your listing shine by taking these steps:

Emphasize the best and most appealing features of the house first and prominently

Include photos of all key rooms

Make sure the photos are well lit and that the rooms appear spacious and uncluttered

Make sure that the best features of each room are actually visible in the photos

When in doubt, hire a professional photographer

Consider a virtual tour that helps online visitors feel that they are actually at your house

Buy a House Mortgage Help

How Does a Buyer Prepare for Closing?

Prior to the actual closing day, there are several things you should do to be certain that your real estate transaction will close on time, and that everything will go smoothly.

A day or two before closing, you should review your final closing statement or HUD-1 Statement, whichever is used in your area of the country. You should go over all the calculations and be certain that you are given credits due to you from the seller or for all your deposits and any other credits due to you from the seller or for other items agreed upon between buyer and seller. Go over all the lender and title and escrow fees, to be sure they are what you had been told and that you agree to them. Check the math calculations on the closing statement. Errors do occur.

Carefully review the preliminary report or the guarantee of title insurance, to verify the exact legal description of the property and any liens, encumbrances or other items which may have been discovered on the property. Be sure that all items are removed that you did not agree to. Verify that the title or escrow agent has your correct vesting, or the way you want to take title to the property. This is important because to correct a vesting on a deed later on is time consuming and can be avoided if care is taken when escrow is closed.

Besides the paperwork which you must review and verify, you should reinspect the property once again just prior to closing. Is everything the way you expect it to be? Have all the necessary repairs or other corrective work been done that were promised to you? This is important so that you don’t arrive at your new house and find unexpected surprises.

The most important thing to remember is that before closing you want to be certain that all the conditions of the purchase contract have been met. You want to be sure that all directions given to the closing agent have been performed. Before signing your name to any closing documents, check and double check that everything is correct, interest rate, fees charged and condition of the property.

The actual “closing day” differs for real estate transactions depending on which part of the country you live in. While those who live across the Eastern portion of the United States refer to closing day as the day when the buyer and seller sign the final paperwork, for the Western part of the US the closing day refers to the date when the closing documents are recorded. The seller will sign the deed several days before closing and escrow will then hold the deed until all conditions outlined in the signed escrow instructions are met. The transaction will then be released and escrow will close the deal by disbursing funds and issuing final closing statements.

Copyright © 2008 Sandy Gadow. this column may not be resold, reprinted, resyndicated or redistributed without the written permission from Escrow Publishing Company.