Here is the scenario — you are about to close on your house in the next week. Your checklist is longer than the Charter of Rights. You have arranged the kids school to be changed, Canada Post is aware of the address change, and only a couple more boxes to pack. It is hard enough arranging all of these things under a time crunch, so I have put together a handy list for Sellers when preparing to close the deal.
- Home insurance policy: Ensure you have arranged with your home insurer ahead of time with closing dates and other pertinent details. The biggest issue you want to avoid is having your insurance lapse between your move, and have something happen during that period. For example, while moving out something is seriously damaged and now your are on the hook to pay out of pocket to new owner. The other issue to be aware of is if your house will be vacant —you must let your insurer know as this is special coverage.
- Important home documents: You kept all the documents provided when you purchased the house, right? Of course you did! Things will go a lot smoother if you provide your lawyer with these documents (deed, mortgage, etc). Also, a useful document to have handy is your current or previous year property tax bill.
- Lawyer visit: The days leading up to closing will be very hectic, so best provide provide your lawyer with a set of keys a few days before closing date. You will also be able to sign final documents at this point. When you do actually leave leave the house for the last time, leave all extra sets of keys on the kitchen counter so the new owners will find them. Finally, if you have a garage door opener — be sure to leave the remotes and any codes (if necessary).
- Utilities: In a typical (i.e. ideal) transaction, your utilities will be prorated to the day you move out. That means if you have already paid your bill, the final disbursement to you will be adjusted to include a credit. The opposite is also true — if you haven’t paid, the prorated amount will be subtracted from your final payout. If possible, have metres read by utility company on the day of moving out. If that isn’t possible, then make a note for your own records in case of any discrepancy.
- Pre-authorized payments to bank: Make sure your bank or financial institute has been alerted to cancel any post-dated cheques or pre-authorized payments. Provided you are using the same institution for your new mortgage, there shouldn’t be a problem — it is when switching companies that you have to be extra vigilant.
- Vacant the house on time: According to a standard Agreement of Purchase and Sale (in Ontario) — vacant possession must be given by 6pm. Don’t leave it until the absolute late minute, try to be out a few hours earlier.
- Clean house: One of the most common problem I have encountered throughout the years. I always ensure there is a clause in the agreement for my clients stating something to the effect of “the property shall be left in a broom sweep condition with no debris (i.e. garbage, junk, furniture, etc) on the premises”. This is simply the right thing to do regardless. You don’t want to arrive at your new house, and to find junk all over the place. It really leaves a bad taste with the buyer. I also advise my clients to book their final access visit to the house close to closing, as this will give you a good idea of how the progress of packing up and cleaning out the house is going. Once the house closes, there is not much recourse for your real estate lawyer or realtor, it then becomes a matter for you to deal with in small claims court (which is a headache).
The fine print: The above is not in any way meant to be legal advice, more so some general tips to help you with closing. For legal matters, please consult with your lawyer for the proper advice.