By the time that they move to an Active Adult Community like PebbleCreek, most people have bought and sold a couple of homes. I certainly had. And I was still completely surprised by the closing process in this state!
On the east coast… and even in the midwest… I was used to very formal real estate closings. Both the buyers and the sellers would be there. And their agents. And possibly the lender. Somebody from the title company would read the documents slowly and in a strong voice. Lots of signing would take place. Checks were disbersed. The conference room was FULL!
Here in Arizona, in the typical residential transaction like a PebbleCreek home sale, such an event does not take place. The buyer and the seller do not typically meet and everything – except some signatures – takes place electronically.
Here is what you can expect:
- The sales contract will lay out a closing date.
- Prior to that closing date, both the buyer and the seller will independently sign documents. This can be weeks before the closing if that is convenient – although if a mortgage is involved, the mortgage paperwork does need to be ready before the buyer signs!
- If any party is out of the area – or simply does not want to go to the title office to sign documents – a mobile notary can be hired to supervise the signing.
- Title is the keeper of the documents and the go-between for the buyer, seller and any lender who is involved in the transaction.
- The buyer gets all of the money that they are responsible for to the title company – typically 24 hours before closing. Mortgage money will typically be wired to title the day of closing.
- Once title has all of the signed paperwork and all of the necessary funds – and the agreed upon closing date has arrived! – the title company will electronically “release for recording.”
- Typically, the county will record within a few hours of the property being released to record.
- Once the county has recorded the transaction, the new buyer owns the home and will receive the keys from their agent. NOTE: ownership does not transfer when documents are signed or even when the title company has all of the money. Ownership transfers when a property is recorded.
- Title then disburses funds according to previously agreed upon directon – generally a wire transfer.
It is a remarkably efficient system and allows buyers and sellers a great amount of flexibility. No one has to be present for or plan around a closing; signing can take place at a time that works well for each party.
But folks are occasionally surprised when they get all of their funds to title a day or two early, sign in advance, and still don’t own the property! In some ways we are still the Wild West here in Arizona.. and this is just one of those things that some people find to be a bit different from what they are used to from experiences in other parts of the country.