Make a List, Check it Twice: A Real Estate Agent’s Checklist for a Smooth Transaction and Closing

As a real estate agent, whether you’re managing one transaction or 10 simultaneously, guiding your clients through their sale or purchase and making sure you and your clients are ready for closing is a process. And since your clients are looking for a smooth and celebratory experience, it’s important you have everything ready to go.

We’ve come up with some of the top things to think about both throughout the transaction process and when approaching the finish line for your transactions to help you avoid problems and oversights.

  1. Make sure all documents required by your broker are completed and uploaded into your document management system. Make sure all addenda have been added. Helpful hint – Your broker may not provide your commission disbursement authorization (CDA) if all documents are missing or not properly executed.
  2. Ensure your sellers have provided mortgage payoff information to the title company well in advance of the closing appointment so funding is not delayed.
  3. Although HOA information is typically provided in the contract, it’s good to ensure the title company has all applicable HOA information well in advance of the closing.
  4. Has one of the sellers passed away? Were they in title as a joint tenant or tenant in common? If so, this information needs to be disclosed at the beginning of the contract process. The seller needs to be ready to provide documentation to the title company to show ownership.
  5. Is there an estate/trust? Is there an attorney? If it does, this also should disclosed at the beginning of the contract process and the seller needs to be ready to provide applicable documentation to the title company.
  6. Provide all amendments, extensions and counterproposals, including inspection resolution immediately to the title company. Any delay in sending these could cause a delay in the closing.
  7. Does your buyer or seller have a power of attorney in place? If so, they need to let the title company know well in advance of closing so the correct name will be placed on documents. If this isn’t provided, closing could be delayed due to the wrong name being on documents the day of closing.
  8. Is this a 1031 exchange and, if so, what is the name of the company?
  9. Talk with your title company early about what closing options will be available to your client – including a mail-out, mobile notary or remote online notarization (RON) closing. If there is a lender involved in the transaction, they typically drive available options based on documentation that must be signed. Your title company can confirm these options for you so you can communicate them to your client early. This helps set expectations up front and avoid irritation as closing approaches if the client thinks they may be able to close remotely and ultimately cannot.
  10. Provide your commission disbursement authorization (CDA) to the title company prior to closing. Specify to your title company how you want to be paid so they can cut you a check at closing, mail you a check or wire funds to you. If you choose wire, have the title company call you before sending the wire to verify wiring instructions. Any withholding, such as for a home warranty you may be purchasing for a client, should be included in the CDA.
  11. Get with your buyers/sellers to schedule a closing appointment at least five days before closing.
  12. If the move date is critical or the same day as closing, try to avoid a closing appointment after 3:00 p.m., as funding may not happen the same day.
  13. Make sure your clients are prepared to bring proper identification to closing. This may include a state-issued ID or driver’s license or a passport. Also be sure to have social security numbers handy.
  14. It’s helpful to provide your buyers with information regarding utility transfer. Check in with them to make sure they’ve successfully transferred utilities to begin at the new address on the day of closing.
  15. Make sure buyers are prepared to bring funds to closing either in the form of a cashier’s check or via a wire transfer sent to the title company prior to the closing appointment. Important tip: Make absolutely sure your buyer and/or seller always confirms wiring instructions the day they are wiring funds via a phone call to the title company using a verified phone number. Fraudsters target consumers in a real estate transaction, so your client should never rely on an email from someone who appears to be either a person from the title company or you, as this could be fraudulent.
  16. If your seller owes rent for a leaseback to the buyers, make sure they bring those funds to closing in the form you’ve previously agreed upon. Typically a personal check or cashier’s check is acceptable.
  17. Inform your buyers that the signature on the closing documents needs to match the signature on the form of identification they bring to closing, such as their driver’s license, passport or other identification.

And there you have it. See how easy it is to have a smooth transaction process? Ha ha, we kid, we kid. But seriously, we hope that these 17 tips help you and your buyers and sellers throughout the process. Getting through the closing can be daunting, but as your premier title services company, Stewart Title is here to make the process smooth, easy for you and enjoyable for your clients.

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