The Closing Process

Transfer of real estate ownership may take anywhere between two weeks and several months to be completed. South Carolina law requires that real estate closings take place through an attorney who is licensed to practice in the state. The Buyer typically chooses their attorney, but the mortgage lender may stipulate who will handle the paperwork as part of the financial package. The Seller may engage his own attorney, or be represented at Closing by the same professional selected by the Buyer; each party will be responsible for his own attorney's fees.

The contract and its amendments are forwarded to the closing attorney, who will initiate a title search that will investigate any claims on the property including any liens that may be outstanding. When the title is shown to be clear and the mortgage lender is ready to fund, you will be provided with a preliminary copy of what is commonly called a "HUD statement" which is several pages of columns with figures showing both the Buyers' and the Sellers' costs. Review this carefully. It represents quite a lot of YOUR money! Don't hesitate to ask questions. Your attorney will have the experience necessary to give you sound answers. You will be told how much additional money you will need to bring to Closing (typically in certified funds rather than as a personal check). If problems arise, the Closing may even be postponed for a few days while issues are being resolved.

Buyers frequently want to take a walk with their real estate agent through the property they will buy within a few hours prior to Closing, to be sure that everything is the way it should be - that all requested repairs have been satisfactorily completed and that the premises are clean. Buyers may choose to be accompanied by the same professional inspector who examined the property in the early stages of the contract negotiations, but this option typically costs an additional amount, so be sure to ask! Take a copy of the list of Inspection concerns you had asked the Sellers to fix, so you can check off items as you go along. Now is a great time to measure the rooms too, so you can think about where you'll soon be positioning your furnishings!

Finally, you will be seated at the Closing table in the attorney's office to sign a substantial pile of paperwork, which will be explained in detail as you look it over. When the Sellers have signed their portions, funds, the keys and the property title will be exchanged. CONGRATULATIONS! The documents will be forwarded to the County's Registrar of Deeds, and within a few days, you will become the Owner of Record of Real Estate in South Carolina.

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