By Lydia Blair
Buying or selling a house takes time. How much time you spend closing depends on several of factors. There is a reason we call it the closing process. Many moving parts must come together before title transfers ownership. In Texas, it’s typically 21 to 45 days.
How long does it take to sign all the documents and actually transfer ownership of the property? That part of the process usually happens in a single day. The closing day is when the deed to a property is exchanged for money. The buyer deposits the money due with the title agent and signs the loan and purchase documents. The seller signs the deed and closing statements and receives money due to them. In Texas, the buyer and seller usually sign closing papers separately. Unlike some other states, not everyone sits down at the closing table at the same time.
Signing the closing documents can take anywhere from five minutes to several hours, depending on the situation. The more complicated the transaction, the more paperwork there is to endorse and the longer it can take.
If both buyer and seller have reviewed their documents in advance, closing should go quickly for each of them. If they decide to read over every page for the first time at the closing table, it could take hours.
Both parties will must sign all required documents with a notary, even those that seem inconsequential. Some of the closing papers are agreements, others are disclosures or acknowledgements. Every paper serves a purpose and if your signature is needed, you must sign. Without your signature on every needed document, your closing may be delayed or cancelled.
If you don’t understand a document, ask for clarification. Many smart people do not understand how to read a closing statement and balance the various debits and credits. The more details you want explained, the longer the signing process will take.
Truthfully, most people skim over the documents they’re signing. Even lawyers rarely take the time to actually read them all because not all of them contain important information. Many of the documents are disclaimers to avoid lawsuits.
For the typical seller, our time at the closing table is usually 5-20 minutes. Generally, there are only a few documents to sign. The seller can expect to sign the deed, closing statement, and a few other documents. The seller should be ready to hand over the keys, garage door openers, etc. to the property.
A buyer can expect to take much longer. If paying cash, there is minimal paperwork and the closing can be completed in less than 15 minutes. However, most buyers finance the purchase of their home, and most of the home-buying documents they sign at closing are required by the bank.
As a buyer getting a mortgage, anticipate signing more paperwork than almost anything else in your life. These will include the promissory note, deed of trust, and the closing statement. There will also be a stack of loan documents to sign. Since this is an important last step of a home purchase, buyers should ask questions about any documents that concern them. All documents signed at closing will become legally enforceable and oblige the signatory to certain obligations.
Once the closing documents are signed, there are a few more behind-the-scenes activities that must happen to finalize the sale.
After buyer and seller have signed all closing documents, the funding and recording steps take place. Incoming checks and wires are processed. Notarized documents are scanned and emailed to the lender for funding approval. Once reviewed and approved, the lender wires funds to the escrow agent who is given approval to fund the transaction.
The escrow agent then disburses the required funds to the seller and pays off any lienholders. The deed and mortgage documents are then recorded with the county courthouse.
It is not officially the buyer’s home until the title company funds the transaction and records the documents. The contract terms will determine when the buyer gets possession of the property. Possession typically takes place at closing and funding. But some contracts include a leaseback for the seller.
The buyer doesn’t get the property until closing AND funding. The funds must be collected from the buyer and their mortgage company before possession is given to the buyer. This usually takes between 5 minutes and 2 hours after all documents are signed, depending on the title agent and the lender. If the lender has a glitch or if it is late in the day and past wiring deadlines, the transaction may not fund until the following day.
This final step to a home sale can go smoothly and quickly if you know what to expect and plan for it. Reviewing closing documents in advance will prepare for a hassle-free closing. Schedule your closing for early in the day and communicate with your lender to help achieve a quick closing
The opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice for any particular issue or problem.
Lydia Blair (formerly Lydia Player) was a successful Realtor for 10 years before jumping to the title side of the business in 2015. Prior to selling real estate, she bought, remodeled and sold homes (before house flipping was an expression). She’s been through the real estate closing process countless times as either a buyer, a seller, a Realtor, and an Escrow Officer. As an Escrow Officer for Carlisle Title, she likes solving problems and cutting through red tape. The most fun part of her job is handing people keys or a check.