Getting Ready For Your Closing (Massachusetts)

When your property is under agreement you need to start preparing immediately for the closing. There’s a lot for you to do between the sale date and the closing date in order to expedite the transaction and prevent delays and/or extra cost to you.

The Closing - If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, the closing may be held at the office of the closing attorney representing the buyer’s lender. You will be notified of the attorney’s name and address, and will want to be informed by this attorney of all issues that may require your involvement leading up to the closing.

Mortgage(s) - If your property is mortgaged, the lender(s) will have to be paid off at the time of closing. The closing attorney (who represents the buyer’s lender, not you) will provide you with a written Mortgage Payoff Request Authorization, which allows that attorney to get exact pay off figures from your lender(s). You’ll need to provide the name, address and telephone of your lender(s) and the account numbers. If one of your lenders has provided you with an Equity Credit Line, you will also have to provide the closing attorney – before the closing – with a letter from that lender indicating that the credit line is frozen and specifying the outstanding balance.

After your mortgage(s) have been paid in full, the lender(s) will send the closing attorney a mortgage discharge document which the closing attorney will then record at the Registry of Deeds.

The Deed - The preparation of a new deed to convey the property to the buyer is your responsibility. If you have an attorney representing you, he or she can provide this service. If that is the case, you should advise the closing attorney of your attorney’s name and telephone number. If you will not be represented by an attorney, the closing attorney can prepare the deed at a reasonable cost.

Fire Department Certificates Needed:

  • Smoke Detector Certificate - In accordance with Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 148, Section 26E, you must obtain a Certificate of Compliance from your local fire department and bring it with you to the closing.

  • Carbon Monoxide Detector Certificate - “Nicole’s Law” requires carbon monoxide detectors in any residence that contains fossil-fuel burning equipment (furnace, boiler, water heater, fireplace, or other device), or that has an attached garage. As with the smoke detector requirement, Nicole’s Law is enforced by the local fire department during its inspection prior to the sale or transfer of your property.

Utilities Adjustments - A couple of weeks prior to the closing, you should call all the utility companies to inform them of your move and to schedule final meter readings; this will also allow the buyer to begin setting up their accounts for the property.

Usually, the water, sewerage, heating oil adjustments are pro-rated on the anticipated day of occupancy; that is, after you have fully vacated and when the buyer moves in. If this date is going to coincide with the closing date (or very near that date) you can request that the closing attorney handle the dollar adjustments on the Settlement Statement by (1) getting final readings and providing them to the closing attorney no later than a few days before the closing, and (2) advising all the utilities of the new owner as of the closing date (or occupancy date – whichever is earlier) and ask that your name be removed for billing purposes

If final readings cannot be provided to the closing attorney prior to the closing, they will have to be settled between you and the buyer independently.

Your Closing Costs - As the seller, you are required to pay for Massachusetts Conveyance Tax Stamps which vary by county. For example, in Plymouth County the charge is $5.70 per $1,000 of sale price. Other seller deductions include the selling broker commission if your home was sold by an broker, your portion of pro-rated taxes and assessments, recording fees, and legal fees if an attorney is representing you. All of these costs are normally deducted from the proceeds of sale due you. Your net proceeds of sale will not be released to you until the deed and mortgage have been recorded in the Registry of Deeds. Most closing attorneys will make every effort to record documents and disburse the funds to you on the same day as the closing.

Condominiums - If you are selling a condominium unit, pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 183A, Section 6(d), you are required to provide a certificate that lists the unpaid common expenses which have been assessed to your unit. This certificate can be obtained from your Condo Association. You will also be required to provide a Certificate of Insurance naming, as insured parties, “the buyer and the buyer’s lender and its successors and assigns as their interest may appear.” This specific language must be on the Certificate of Insurance.

What To Bring To The Closing

  • A final reading of your utilities, if appropriate (see above)
  • A valid driver’s license or other government issued identification
  • Your Social Security Number(s). Federal law requires the closing attorney to report the proceeds of the transaction to the IRS
  • Your house keys, garage door openers, and any other applicable items
  • All receipts and/or evidence of completed repairs (if you’ve agreed to do so)
  • Your mortgage information (see above)

And Please Remember . . .

  • The buyers are likely to request a final walk-through of your home within 24 hours prior to closing.
  • Unless prior arrangements have been made with the buyers, your belongings should be moved out of the house prior to closing and the house should be “broom clean” (this is usually specified in the P&S). The buyers will have the expectation that they can begin to move in as soon as the deed is recorded.
  • Before going to the closing, ALWAYS call the closing attorney to verify that the closing is still on schedule.
  • ALL parties named on the Deed must be present at the closing (with proof of identification) unless other arrangements, such as granting Power of Attorney, have been made and the closing attorney has been made aware of these arrangements.

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