Just the mere mention of listing contracts, sales contracts and real estate closings create anxiety, doesn’t it? Why does the sale of a property have to be so complicated and require so much paperwork?
Think about it, a home is one of the largest investments you may make in your lifetime, so detailed paperwork is much needed and recommended for smooth transactions.
When building new homes for clients, I often would find myself getting caught up in the many intricate details from the cabinet hardware to what types of kitchen sink drains they preferred. The result of the attention to detail was mostly rewarded with educated, informed buyers and sellers.
My biggest pet peeve with lengthy detailed documents required in all property transactions is that often people do not take the time to read over them. I know, we are all busy, and who wants to spend 30 minutes to an hour reading over a 10-page listing form, sales contract or closing documents/statement?
My hope today is that I can stress to each and every one of you reading this article how important it is for you to read over every document you sign. Yes, we all have access to agents and attorneys that will read and interpret documents for us, but why don’t we ourselves take the time to personally read over every document that we end up signing? If you don’t think you have the time or patience to read any document you may be signing, please reconsider!
First and foremost, whenever you are handed a real estate listing or any real estate contract form to sign, politely tell the person drafting and delivering the form to you that you would like to look it over for at least 24 hours before signing.
This is a rule of thumb I live by and it gives me ample time to look over the forms, have anyone I trust look over the forms and gives me time to think clearly before signing any forms. If any person drafting and delivering a form or document to you pressures you to sign it before you have read it, steer clear.
What about the dozens of real estate closing documents you are handed on the day you are scheduled to close on your property? I hear about this scenario daily! You arrive at the property closing office, you are seated at a conference table and told to “sign here” on at least a dozen or more forms in sometimes 30 minutes or less!
Granted, title companies and closing agents do their best to explain each form or document you are signing, but I’ve yet to be seated at a closing where the signor reads every word in every document prior to signing.
Do this instead: at least 24 hours before you are scheduled to close on your property, simply notify the closing/title company that you would like a copy of all of the closing documents you will be signing emailed to you.
If you do not have email access, simply ask if you can pick up copies of the closing documents prior to your closing to look over. Most any title/closing company will gladly print out or email you all of the documents giving you ample time to read over every form that you will be signing. This gives you time to methodically look over each form, see what you will be signing and ensure that no mistakes are made.
Some common mistakes to check for are simply the correct spelling of your name, the description of the property being conveyed, prorated taxes or rents, credit for monies paid outside of closing and possible incorrect or not agreed upon expenses charged.
Remember, closing/title companies are handling numerous transactions per day. They are human beings that can unintentionally make mistakes due to the volume of paperwork they handle.
Allowing at least a 24-hour period to look over your closing documents will make you feel much safer, informed and also ensure less mistakes or errors made in the process.
How often have you signed a lengthy document or form without reading it? Have you signed a document or form and later realized you wished you had taken the time to read it?
having just sold my home..lengthy documents ugh…but it seems to me most of them are full of legalese that the average person doesn’t understand anyway…I fortunately had both a realtor and a title person who took time to review every inch of paperwork with me…
Great comment, Jeanne! The more eyes you can have reading over documents you sign and agree to the better! If there is anything in a document that you are asked to sign that you do not fully understand, always ask for an explanation or clarification.