Buying a new home is exciting, and you may be eager to finalize one of the many real estate transactions that happen every year. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2019, people in the U.S. sold 5.34 million existing homes.

Closing is the final step in any real estate transaction. This is the day that you take legal ownership of the property.

When closing happens

Setting a closing date happens during the contract negotiation phase of your purchase. You can find your closing date on the purchase agreement contract. Although you and your seller may both want a certain closing date, you will also have to work with your title agency and lender to finalize this date. All of these parties need enough time to execute the real estate transaction, which could mean you will have to wait several weeks before closing happens.

How to prepare

Appraisal problems, home loan problems and home inspection problems can all delay closing, so it is important to be as prepared as possible before this date. Hire a home inspector to assess the condition of the home and arrange for a professional appraisal to determine the property’s market value.

Even if you receive prequalification for a loan, your lender may also have to take additional steps for final approval on your mortgage. Gather all the documentation your lender needs from you well in advance. This may include pay stubs, W-2 forms, asset statements, like bank account and investment information, and proof of insurance.