7 Tips For A Smooth Real Estate Closing

Buying a House in Hilton Head

7 Tips For A Smooth Real Estate Closing


Congratulations! You found the perfect house and it’s going to be yours in a few short weeks.  All of the steps that occur between the day your offer is accepted and when you receive the keys to your new house can be described as the real estate “Closing Process.”  Here are seven tips to make that process as smooth as possible.


1. Review The Sales Contract

The Sales Contract controls the entire real estate closing process. Specifically, the parties are legally obligated to comply with every written term in the Contract.  This obligation means you and your realtor need to make sure everything important that was part of the sale is written down in the Contract, including terms like repairing the trim-work, replacing the dishwasher, or getting a repair credit.  If you are buying a piece of property on Hilton Head Island, most real estate agents use a standard Sales Contract, with a specific place to write down any special terms.

2. Choose Your Closing Date Wisely

Your Contract will include a closing date. You have some flexibility to pick this date, but be sure to choose a date that will work with your schedule.  Do not choose a date when you are traveling or out of town for business.  Even if you are closing by Power of Attorney, your lawyer will generally require you to be available on closing day to review, approve, and sign certain documents by e-mail.

3. Hire a Real Estate Lawyer to Represent Your Interests

South Carolina law requires that a lawyer be present for the closing. Usually, your real estate agent will recommend a lawyer for you to use.  In most cases, one lawyer should not represent both the buyer and the seller.  While one lawyer is allowed to represent both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction, this dual-representation often becomes a tricky situation for all parties because issues and disputes arise fairly often.  You want to hire a lawyer that will represent your interests, and your interests only, to make sure you are getting the best deal.  If your lawyer is representing the seller and the buyer, it is sometimes difficult to ensure that your interests are being fully protected.

If an issue arises during the real estate closing, such as the seller failing to fully complete a repair referenced in the Contract, and you have chosen the path of a dual-representation lawyer, your lawyer will have to remove himself completely from the closing process and both parties will be required to hire new lawyers.  Hiring new lawyers requires additional time and expense on your part.  However, if your lawyer is only representing your interests, he will work with the seller’s lawyer to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently to get you in your house sooner.

4. Work With Your Lender

As you know, you are required to complete a lot of paperwork to be approved for a loan. For a smooth closing, complete your paperwork as quickly as possible and send them to your lender in a timely manner.  Your lender cannot process your loan application until it has all of the required documents. Always remember to read what you sign.

5. What Does “Contingent” Really Mean?

If your Lender says that your loan is approved “contingent” upon appraisal or upon the completion of an additional step, that means that you are not approved for the loan. Your loan will not be approved until all of the contingency items have been reviewed and approved by the Lender.  Pay attention to these details, because this will impact your closing date.

6. Review the Closing Documents Ahead of Time

Generally, your lawyer will send you a draft version of the closing documents at least one day prior to your closing date, including the mortgage, promissory note, and title to the property. Many of the closing documents are prepared by your Lender as part of the loan package and cannot be released until the Lender has approved your loan and the closing.  Take a few minutes and review these documents.  Write down any questions you may have.  Doing this little bit of work ahead of time ensures all of your questions get answered, and shortens the amount of time you will spend signing your closing documents.

7. Don’t Plan to Move into the Property on the Day of Closing

As exciting as closing day is, do not schedule movers for 8 a.m. that morning. Unfortunately, a lot of moving parts come together on closing day, which can lead to last minute hold-ups.  Give yourself a day or two to enjoy your new home before you fill it up with stuff.


Lauren Williams is an attorney with Russell P. Patterson, P.A. in Hilton Head, SC. She can be reached at (843) 341-9300 or lauren@russellpattersonlaw.com.

Information or interaction on this page should not be construed as establishing a client-attorney relationship or as legal advice.  For advice about your specific situation, please consult one of our attorneys.


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