Buying real estate is a complicated process, with many pieces that must fall into place simultaneously. Paperwork on the purchase of real estate and mortgage loan needs to be completed, and many documents must be signed. The number of people actually present during a closing, however, can depend on many factors.
It's not necessary for either the buyer or the seller to be present during a real estate closing. A real estate attorney or title agent designated by the buyer may handle all necessary paperwork and verify monetary transactions. The real estate agents who facilitated the sale may or may not attend. A representative of the lending institution also may attend, but is not required to do so.
Before closing on a piece of property, it is necessary for the buyer to fill out and submit the paperwork provided by the escrow company. This can be done from a remote location and sent by overnight delivery or an online document service to the escrow company. Read all documents completely before signing. In many states, a signature on a faxed document is considered acceptable. The closing agent should prepare or order the necessary documents for the closing. If the buyer is not to be present at the closing, he should make sure his representative has all of the necessary paperwork in advance, including a new homeowner's insurance policy and any other relevant insurance policies, with proof of payment, and a certified check for all costs associated with the closing.
After you have signed all of the necessary paperwork and hold the keys to your new property, there is still work to be done. The settlement agent will forward payment of any outstanding balance to the seller's mortgage company, pay anyone else associated with the transaction and record all legal documents at the county courthouse. However, the buyer does not need to be present for any of this.
Although it is usually not necessary for a buyer to attend a real estate closing, doing so can help avoid unforeseen complications that could delay the closing. Additionally, laws and procedures vary from state to state and even from county to county. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines in your state and consult with your attorney or escrow agent for exact details about how the closing is accomplished in your area.
Lisa Weber is a freelance writer/editor and former special education teacher. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and professional writing, and a master's degree in special education. Over the last 15 years, she has written for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and on-line publications.