Here’s a simple checklist to help ensure that you, as the seller, have a smooth home closing.
On my way to the closing table I find myself singing “Closing Time” by Semisonic, every single time. I sing in my head of course, but it’s usually such an exciting time for both buyer and seller.
Yay! You sold your home, all inspection negotiations are finished and now you prep for closing day. There are certain things that every seller should do when they are preparing for closing day. I’m a big list maker so I figured why not make a list for you too, to ensure you don’t forget anything during the chaos of moving out and getting ready for your big closing day.
Your closing checklist will come in handy once you actually move out of your home, after all your personal belongings and furniture have been removed too.
1. Save All Those Sale Documents
Save everything! Ideally, at closing your title agent or attorney will hand you a complete package containing all the sale documents you will need, but save everything along the way anyway. Buy a big file and save all your home docs just in case you may need to refer to them again one day.
2. Clean the House
The rule of thumb is generally to leave your home in “broom swept” condition. If you don't have time to personally clean the home before leaving it, then at least hire a professional cleaning service to do so. I always say, leave your home the way you would like to find it if you were the buyer. How clean is clean enough? That is often a matter of opinion and personal preference. Want to be super classy too? Some of my sellers even leave a nice note and bottle of champagne or flowers for the new buyers.
3. The Final Walk-through
Make sure you are out of the house and it’s ready for the buyers when it's time for them to have have their final walkthrough. Some sellers leave a notebook with detailed directions for all of the quirks about their home that only the previous property owner would know. You can pass on these tips to the buyer through your agent during the final walkthrough—things like which light switch operates which lights, or what lightbulbs are your favorites for certain areas, etc.
4. Cancel Your Insurance Policies
By all means, wait until you know the deed has recorded or title transfer has formally occurred, then call your insurance agent. Or you can always call beforehand to discuss and give them a heads up. If you are buying a new home yourself you’ll want to keep them in the loop. You may even receive a refund of any prepaid premiums for your homeowner's insurance.
5. Close Your House Accounts
Make a list of utility companies and phone numbers in advance. Keep in mind that not every utility is always paid monthly. Some are quarterly. You might have a refund coming, or you might be able to transfer the balance to your next home. This list will be helpful for your buyers also when they need to transfer utilities into their name. Gas or oil companies, septic company, phone company, newspaper deliveries, water company, security company, pool company, landscapers, etc.
6. Personal Accounts
Aside from all of your home bills, don’t forget all of your personal information and account information that gets sent to your home. Other people you should notify about your change of address are credit card companies, your bank , employers, cell phone company, wi-fi info, cable, etc.
7. What to Leave Behind
You’ll want to leave all of the house keys, garage remotes, gate keys, pool keys, and mailbox keys for the new owner. Yes, the buyers will probably change the locks, but this won't happen the second they move in. Do your best to gather every house key, all the remotes for the garage or ceiling fans, sound systems and tv's you may be including in the sale. Put them in a kitchen drawer or plastic bin to leave behind.
It’s also wonderful when a buyer shows up for their walk through and sees a packet of appliance manuals, receipts, and any warranties as well. You may have manuals for the HVAC, boiler, security system, sprinkler system, or appliances. Set anything you have aside. If you have receipts from contractors or warranties, put them into an envelope and leave them as well. Don’t forget the code for the security alarm and garage door keypads too! Your buyers will love you for this!
8. Don't Leave Anything Personal Behind Double and triple check every nook and cranny of your home. Check cabinets, drawers, and storage areas for any forgotten items. Run one more check even if someone else says they’ve already done it. You should literally go through every room with a fine-tooth comb, searching for anything you might have overlooked. Don't forget the shampoo bottles and soap in the showers! This will hopefully give you peace of mind, and your buyer will feel like they’re moving into their own home, not one you ran out of in a hurry.
9. Change Your Address Don't forget to let everyone know where you've gone. Most importantly, submit a change-of-address form to the post office, but remember that not all mail can be forwarded. I say go splurge on the those fun “We’ve moved” cards and send them to everyone on your holiday card list too.
10. Lock Up and Say Goodbye Close and lock all of the windows, turn off the lights, and lock the doors. You'd be amazed at how many people forget to close up the house—the odds of a break-in are rare when there’s nothing to take, but you should still lock up! If the home is going to be vacant for a while this is actually very important!
Get ready to enjoy your new adventure, and expect a call two from your agent within the first week with questions your buyers may have about how something works too. xo