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Closing: What Can Go Wrong and How to Prevent It

Closing: What Can Go Wrong and How to Prevent It
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Just when you thought it was safe to put down the stress ball because you’ve found a buyer and your sale is in escrow, an issue with closing could turn your knuckles white all over again. But if you know what kinds of problems are most likely to pop up, when they typically occur and what you can do to prevent them, you’ll sleep a little better during this phase.


One of the most common closing problems is an error in one of the sale documents. It could be as simple as a misspelled name or transposed address number, or as serious as an incorrect loan amount or missing pages. Either way, it could cause a delay of hours or even days.

Prevention: Preview everything
Go ahead and ask to see every piece of paperwork as far in advance as possible. The sooner you spot a problem, the faster you can get it fixed and keep your closing on track. If something seems odd or you just don’t understand it, this is the time to ask questions. Double-check the loan and down payment amounts, spellings and all personal information.


The buyer’s problems sometimes become your problem during escrow. If your buyer’s lender isn’t on top of things, it could delay the closing for days or weeks.

Prevention: Check in with everyone
Since the mortgage lender technically isn’t working for you, it’s hard to take control of this. The best you can do is keep in touch with your agent and make sure your agent stays in contact with the buyer’s agent. Communication is key. If there is going to be a problem or delay, knowing about it as soon as possible will help you adjust your plans.

Several days before closing, check in with your listing agent to make sure they are in communication with the buyer and their lender and that they have everything they need.


Maybe the title company discovers that there is a lien on the property you didn’t even know about. Or perhaps the home is the subject of a lawsuit. Your buyer will insist on a clear, unclouded, problem-free title before closing.

Prevention: Read the title report

You can pay for your own title report before even putting your home on the market. If there are any liens, get them taken care of immediately. If you didn’t take that step, you should have at least looked at your county’s online records for your home to see if anything pops up. But even if you didn’t do that, shortly after escrow opened, the title company completed a preliminary title report for the buyer. That often goes directly to the buyer’s lender, but you can request a copy either from the title company or your buyer’s agent. Get it as soon as possible and read it carefully.


It’s the day before closing and the buyer is doing a final walkthrough of the home. They notice that it’s freezing inside because the furnace broke two weeks ago, or they can see that you took fixtures you were supposed to leave.

Prevention: Be upfront
If the furnace breaks during escrow, it’s on you. Same with pretty much anything that stays with the house. It can be tempting to just leave repairs until it’s no longer your problem, but that will come back to bite you. If you have an attachment to any particular light fixtures or the living room drapery, check with your agent before removing them. The buyer may plan on replacing them anyway and it will be no big deal. But if they want them and they’re supposed to stay, you don’t want to risk the entire sale falling apart at the last minute over a set of drapes.

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