San Antonio's Rockstar Turned Realtor®: Realtor® Speak 102: What do I need to bring to closing?

Realtor® Speak 102: What do I need to bring to closing?

Man inserting key into his new house.

photo courtesy of Menage a Moi

I was preparing for a closing yesterday with a client...

My client is a First Time Home Buyer and we've had some interesting moments looking for homes.  We've seen good and we've seen bad.  As we went through the house on our final walk-through to prepare for the closing the next day, the client had quite a few questions.  This particular client really had a desire to understand what was going on as he was purchasing a home and I had a blast with him.  I like questions.  It gives me a chance to talk about something I know well and to help someone grasp concepts that I once didn't understand either.  I was a first time home buyer once too.

His last question to me, as we were getting in our cars, was a simple one.  What do I need to bring to closing?  He had already received a list of items from the title company, but he wanted to make sure.  I answered the question, parroting back what the title company had said; a drivers license (or other form of photo ID) and a cashier's check in the amount given to him by the title company.

Pretty simple list really.  Of course, I added, "A well-rested hand."  Closings are one signature after another and it can actually become a bit tiresome after awhile.  We laughed, got in our cars and drove off.

On my way home, I thought of something else I should have told him - especially based on what I knew about him.  Bring your questions and concerns.  Closing time is the point where most people shut off and sign the papers.  You're so close at this point, I've seen people glaze over and just sign whatever was put in front of them.

Not this client...

This client wanted to understand the process.  Wanted to know what he was signing.  He listened to every word and occasionally paused to ask a question or ask if he was correct the way he understood something in front of him.  I loved watching it and the closer (Sherri Reidel of Independence Title) was great at explaining everything.  We were also joined by the client's lender, Scott Cummins of Cornerstone Mortgage, who is a great guy to work with.  What made this so interesting to me, was the interaction that happened at the table.  Instead of just signing everything in front of him, the client asked questions, we all shared stories from our experiences, and we all bantered back and forth about real estate and real estate theory.  It actually became a discussion and not just a closing.

My client commented on how great it was to have both of us there and I definitely think he learned more about the real estate process than most people do when closing.  To me, that's an amazing thing.  Education.  A smarter consumer.  A better relationship.  Next time you go to closing - go with an open mind and a desire to learn.  You'll walk away better prepared for the day you sell the home and buy a new one.

Special thanks to Sherri and Scott for being a great team to work with and to my client for helping me remember my first time buying a home and how overwhelming it was.  I learned a lot today too.  Tomorrow, I am better prepared to take on new clients than I was the day before.

This is a post in a series on real estate education to help define some of the finer points of contracts and the process of buying and selling real estate in San Antonio, Texas (it's Texas real estate, so if you live outside of Texas, these articles may not apply to you).  You can read the previous posts; "Realtor® Speak 102: What are all these charges on my HUD-1 Settlement Statement?," "Realtor® Speak 102: Who's paying for the survey?," "Realtor® Speak 102: Does that come with the house?," and "Realtor® Speak 102: What if the house burns down?" or check out my ongoing series Realtor® Speak 101 at

Comment balloon 11 commentsMatt Stigliano • August 20 2009 11:23PM


Your post is a great tribute to the Lender and Title Company.  I can also tell that you are no doubt a great Realtor!

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) about 9 years ago

Matt - Congrats on the closing !  We learn something from every deal that we do.  Answering questions and being there for your client is very rewarding.  It is what it is all about.   Also makes us better for the next deal... and next... and next.  And more importantly, with a job well done, you have a potential client for life.

Posted by The Somers Team, Real People. Real Dreams. Real Estate. (The Somers Team at RE/MAX Access) about 9 years ago

The comfort that we give to a client (especially first time buyers) at closing will always bring back great memories for them, And hopefully new clients as well.

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) about 9 years ago

Congrats on a job well done.  We all have to take the time to answer ALL of the questions our clients have.

Posted by David Slavin, CDPE, ABR, SRES Keller Williams Premier (Keller Williams Premier) about 9 years ago

Sharon - So far in my career, I've had great luck with the people I've both chosen to work with and the people my client's have chosen to work with.  There are people out there that take their jobs to the above and beyond levels that I love.

Christopher and Stephanie - I had a closer recently ask me if I was coming to closing.  She said she has a lot of agents that don't.  I couldn't believe it.  My job at closing is mainly a support role, but I find it very important to the client.  In fact, my client in the post above commented on how much appreciated us (the lender and I) being there.

Laura - Comfort.  That's a word I love.  Making people comfortable is a huge part of closing.  It's a big day, especially when they are a first time buyer.

David - I loved working with this particular client, because I could relate to him in terms of his questions about buying a home.  He was asking a lot of the questions I asked on my first home.  I was able to share personal stories as well as "textbook" answers to help him understand.  I think he's walked away much more knowledgeable about the process in general.  That makes me feel like I did a good job.

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) about 9 years ago


Good points. I try to have a set of the closing documents the day before closing so I can prepare the client for the documents and answer questions before they get to the closing table. Sometimes the HUD-1 is not available, but usually the earlier GFE is an adequate substitute for that. Closers have been good enough to alert me if the numbers vary too much from the GFE.

I love the smell of a good closing early in the morning. Smells like--victory. (Pardon my take off on Robert Duval, Apocalypse Now)

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) about 9 years ago

Wayne - The key there is "try."  I've been having a harder time getting my closing documents in advance lately.  I still get them a bit in advance, just not as advance as I'd like them to be.  The best thing is to surround yourself with good closers.  They can work magic for you.

As for Apocalypse Now, you may quote that movie at anytime on my blog.

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) about 9 years ago

I was told that you also have to bring proof of home insurance.

Posted by Mindy about 9 years ago

Mindy - You do need proof of insurance, but that should already be in the file at this point.  Most insurance is dealt with through the title company (you provide them with the info of the insurance company and they get the necessary paperwork to deal with it during the closing).  Many mortgages come with an escrow account for property taxes and insurance and the lender requires certain amounts of these to be paid up front in the closing process.  If you have already paid for your insurance before closing takes place, you would need some proof of insurance, but your agent and/or title company should help arrange this for you.  A home buyer has enough to worry about.

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) about 9 years ago

I have a question for my sister. She and her husband "sold" their home in TX (fsbo) so they could move out of state. The "buyers" wanted my sister to move out in 20 days so she flew to KS to find temporary housing so she could comply. Before my sister moved out of her house, she noticed the buyers had already changed some of the utilities to their name and they were receiving mail with their name on it. My sister thought that was odd since she hadn't even moved out yet. The day of the closing, she and my brother in law went to the closing. The buyers were there with their realtor and so was the title co. At this time, the realtor told my sister and her husband that the buyers were there without a check b/c they were having difficulty with the check they had received from the people who had bought their house, but assured my sister everything was fine. They had my sister and her husband sign the papers and the title co. apparently understood what has happening at this time, bucause they allowed papers to be signed. That day, my sister and her family moved out of the house and the new owners moved in. Well guess what?? Their check never came. The new "owners" lived in the house for 2 weeks and never paid my sister a penny. My sister had to call them several times and they were rude to her and apparently were going to move out when they felt like it. So, the people finally moved out of the house but at this time, my brother in law had already started his new job and they had already signed a contract for the home they were leasing. They talked to the bank about what happened and basically, the bank told them they had to live in the house if they wanted any help. Sadly, after 3 mo., the bank reposessed the house and have sinced sold it for $50,000 less than the original "selling price" (and quite possibly to the same people). Is there ANY advice you can give me? This has devestated my sister's family. Their credit has been ruined, they have no home...they feel that at least there was a breech of contract. At this time, there is mail and other items laying on the front porch of this house with the "new buyers" name on it. Is there anything that should be done to the "buyers", the realtor, or the title co.? They cannot afford any atty and aren't sure what to do or how to restore their credit. Anyone with any advice?? What would you do?

Posted by beth over 8 years ago

Beth - You'll find that agents in Texas wont be able to give you much advice, as this is definitely a question for a real estate attorney.  Texas real estate law keeps us from giving legal advice, as we are not attorneys.

It sounds like quite a situation your sister and her husband have been in.  One of the things I notice immediately is that they allowed someone to move in before closing.  This is never a good idea and I always warn clients about this.  I know everyone wants to be nice and helpful, but this is a situation that typical doesn't go well.  That is why most agents and sellers will not allow buyers to move in (or even "move a few things into the garage") until closing and funding.

Your sister may want to speak with someone at the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) about what went on and perhaps file a complaint.  Although this would not resolve the financial issues of what happened to your sister and her husband, it would bring possible action against the buyers' agent if indeed there was any wrong doing.  As for civil action, that is for a lawyer to decide.  Perhaps they should call a few attorneys and speak with them about the case to determine whether or not there is something there or not.  Many lawyers will give a free consultation and work on the basis of if the case is winnable, they will get paid at time of judgment.

In the meantime, they'll need to keep paying all of their bills on time and keep a clean credit history to help pull them out of their credit slump (due to the foreclosure).

Here's a link to the consumer complaint side of the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC): Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) - Complaints and Consumer Information

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) over 8 years ago