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In Washington State, closing is considered the day that the deed is recorded into the buyer’s names and the proceeds are paid to the seller. When you can take legal possession of the property depends on the terms or conditions of your contract.
Different states handle closing procedures different ways. In Washington State, buyers and sellers sign at separate times, typically two to three days prior to closing. Closings are predominately handled by escrow companies, although some prefer to use attorneys. Again, your purchase contract determined which you would use.
Prior to signing, the escrow company will set an appointment with you to come in and sign. They will also give you, the total amount of funds to close, that you will need to bring to the signing in the form of a certified or cashier’s check.
At this time, if you have not already informed your loan officer, you will need to provide proof of household insurance. This is something you will want to take care of a few weeks prior to signing, or when your loan officer recommends it.
As far as possession is concerned, this can get very vague and confusing, when it really shouldn’t be. Let me explain. Legal possession can only occur when the deed is recorded and funds disbursed. The gray area becomes, what time of day did this occur. 9am? Noon? 2pm? To protect your best interests your Realtor would place a time of day, as well as day of the month in which possession legally occurs right on your purchase and sale contract.
We also have a standard practice in Washington State called; ‘Possession + X days’ (the number of days can vary, but typically it is 3). This means that you may have possession 3 days after recording and disbursement of funds. This was designed to give the sellers a chance to move out because most people need the proceeds from their home sale to purchase the next one. Once again, your Realtor will establish the time of the day and day of the month on your contract so there is no misunderstandings or delays.
Knowing exactly when you can have possession of your new home is a great relive too many, and allows you to proceed forward with your moving plans. It also establishes an exact cutoff/ start time for your utilities.