Buying a home can be one of the happiest, most exciting days of your life! It can also be one of the most stressful!
And if the proper pieces aren’t in place, chances are your big day is going to be filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
So how can you make sure your closing is a happy event you’ll remember for the rest of your life? Well, it’s really pretty simple! Just make sure you have your team in place first. My team? That’s right, the professionals who will help make sure your best interests are served from start to finish.
Your team includes your lender, your buyer’s agent, your home inspector and, of course, the one who pulls it all together and makes sure all the T’s are crossed and all the I’s are dotted — your real estate attorney.
Your lender is the person who will explain all the new loan programs that are out there — and after our economic meltdown from 2008 to 2012 — everything is different in the lending world. There are a lot of fascinating changes that will make you smile when you find out about today’s loans. And if you’ve had a credit ding or two along the way, tell your lender. Many boo-boos can be fixed in a matter of days — and now is the time to repair those concerns — before you write an offer on your dream home!
Your Buyer’s Agent is the next team player. Be aware that all Realtors throughout the country are licensed as an agent of the SELLER — so you definitely want to change that relationship, so your agent is working for you directly. In Wisconsin, it is a simple form (WB-36, Buyer Agent/Tenant Representation Agreement) that your agent will go over with you the first time you sit down together. This relationship change now protects everything you say to your Realtor, and allows him or her to keep private all discussions you have on an offer price for the home you want.
Once you have your offer accepted, you’ll absolutely want to have your home inspected — so your team adds a home inspector! If you waive this opportunity now, everything that is wrong with the house will come out of your checkbook. A home inspection is not so much a “gotcha” inspection as it is a way for a very qualified (and licensed) expert to explain how your house operates. You’ll discover where you put salt in your water softener, how to change a furnace filter, how to restart a circuit breaker, how to drain a water heater for peak performance — and a whole variety of other safety and maintenance tips for being sure your home doesn’t become a money pit. You might also want to consider doing a radon test, as that tests the air quality of your finished basement, an area where you will likely spend a lot of time — so be sure it’s safe!
Next, but certainly not last, is your real estate estate attorney. She or he is like the wizard with the big hat watching over everything. The real estate attorney takes a global view over everyone else’s work and makes sure that everything to date is going smoothly — and then their role is to look forward and coordinate the closing with the title company. Almost all Dane County closings are completed at a title company, though a few are done at attorney’s offices. The real estate attorney not only ensures that all the terms of the loan, the inspection and the real estate purchase agreement have been completed as written — but that the title insurance and deed for your home are correct and legally recordable.
In most cases, these documents are in good order or require some minor tweaking by your attorney prior to closing, and the closing comes off without a hitch. However, and usually when someone does not have a real estate attorney involved, an issue can come up that stops the closing cold. And then, yes, the you-know-what hits the fan! Now, in many cases, some quick repairs or check writing is done right at closing, and a closing happens with everyone in an uproar — maybe not the way you want to remember this very special day. But with a real estate attorney involved, I can say that in my 25+ plus years of real estate sales here and more than 1,200 closings — never has a closing come to a screeching halt or turned into a nightmare experience when a real estate attorney was present.
Without her asking me to say so, I will tell you that my favorite real estate attorney is Dera Johnsen-Tracy of Horn & Johnsen, S.C. I say that for three very important reasons. One, when Dera is involved, the closing happens. It’s that simple — and I like simple; 2) Dera’s overview and ongoing communication with you, as the homebuyer, and all the members of your team, is exceptional, and 3) as a real estate and estate planning attorney, Dera looks at the big picture and puts you in the best position moving forward. Hey, you just bought what is likely the biggest asset of your life — and how is this going to impact, you, your spouse (or significant other) or kids here or on the way? Dera looks at everything and puts it all together for you — so you have not only that very happy and very special closing day we first spoke about — but a game-plan for how you move forward after the day of closing.
Here’s to your next home search with your team and a wonderful closing and a happy life to follow!
P.S. — Don’t forget you’ll need to bring a paid receipt for homeowner’s insurance to your closing. Ask any member of your team to recommend a good insurance agent, as your team members interact with quality insurance people every week!
(Randy Lenz is a real estate broker associate with Madison’s Realty Executives. He has been a licensed Realtor since 1987 and has helped more than 1,200 families achieve their homebuying or homeselling goals. He holds his CRS, GRI and ABR designations and currently serves as the President of the Verona BNI Epic Referrals chapter and is also on the Board of Directors for the Madison NARI chapter. You can reach Randy at 608-444-1100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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