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Coffee is for Closers!

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to Curbed Chicago's tipline.

Closing is the big dance. If attending open houses, getting an agent and putting a home under contract are the regular season, then closing is the Super Bowl of home buying. At closing, the seller hands over the deed to the home and the keys, and the buyer hands over the money (usually with the assistance of a bank loan). But it's not quite as simple as that. A bunch of other documents need to be signed, and several other people are present at closing, to cover various aspects of the real estate transaction, and all of those people need to get paid (we'll get to that later).

How long does it take to close on a home?
It depends. Sometimes, if everything is in order, a buyer can schedule closing within a week or two of putting a home under contract. In most cases, though, it takes a month or two for everything to come together; and sometimes, closing will be delayed for several months. However, the act of closing only takes a couple of hours. One thing that you absolutely must do before trying to close on a home is get homeowner's insurance, so it's a good idea to schedule a sit-down with your insurance guy before closing day. Before closing, you'll also want to get an attorney or title company to conduct a title search to check the history of the property and make sure that there are no unpaid liens exist. And just in case they miss something that could come back to bite you, you'll want to get title insurance, which will protect you from any title issues down the road.

On to the fees:
Closing isn't free, and in fact it can be quite pricey. Typical closing costs tend to run somewhere in the realm of 5 percent of the price of the home – which can be quite a significant sum. Your real estate lawyer isn't attending for her personal amusement, of course, so you'll have to pay her. You'll also have to pay for a loan origination fee (the cost of opening a loan), and you'll have to cover the cost of title searches, application fees, transfer taxes, and more. The good news is that these fees shouldn't come as a complete surprise on closing day. Within three days of applying for a loan, the lender is required to give you a "good faith estimate" of how much closing fees will be. And in some cases, you can even talk the seller into covering closing costs.
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