Closing on a home is a lot more involved than simply signing on the dotted line and handing over a check. And it’s good that way too. For such a large purchase, it shouldn’t be as easy as swiping a credit card in a little machine. We already rack up enough regrettable transactions that way in our day-to-day lives, imagine if it were that easy to purchase a house. Learn the closing process well and you’ll lessen your chances of getting into something you’re not ready for. The following are four essential tips to take care of before you close on a house.

Ask the Seller Questions

First, make sure that you know what you’re getting into. Ask questions of the previous owners about the condition of the house and the quality of the neighborhood.

Although the previous owner may not be able to tell you much, the internet and state records can. Find out about the home’s history. Search out past local disasters—e.g. fires, floods—that could have affected the structural integrity of the property/ruin your property. Introduce yourself to the neighbors and find out who has lived in the neighborhood the longest. Talk to those people and find out everything you can about the home’s history.

As for the quality of the neighborhood, look to the news and ask people around town if you are suspicious of the area. Discover the school zonings for the area and investigate the schools children would be going to (if children are in the picture). Find out what the crime rate is in the area. Identify potential nearby dangers close to home—e.g. nearby industrial plants.

Learn the property’s past and environment before you close. Otherwise you could find yourself paying off a veteran home loan on a poor quality home in a bad part of town and unable to move.

Prepare for the Week of Closing

medium_1484118790Second, snag title insurance. In rare cases, a title will come into your hands dirty. If it does that, it could mean that you and the lender would be out a home, plus a lot of money. Title insurance helps cover you in case you are sold a dirty title. Some lenders will require it, in which case, be sure to get it. That is largely in the hands of lenders though and isn’t normally governed by whether it is a VA home loan or not. Also consider doing a title search to look for any red flags.

Third, on the day of closing, consider taking the day off of work. Ideally, you would be in and out in about thirty to forty-five minutes. If anything goes amiss the day of closing, the last thing you want to do is juggle work and closing. Consider taking the day off to make sure you don’t add that stress to your already busy day. You can always head into work after you sign if you so desire.

Fourth, review your veteran home loan application and status. Contact your lender and double check that they are still planning on backing you for the agreement you’ve settled on. Ask for documentation to review as well. You have the ability to review the closing-settlement statement at least 24 hours before closing. Human error happens. It’s always nice to make sure that everything is perfect before closing.

Quickly review those four steps again. Know the home and its environment. Grab some title insurance for protection. Take the day off of work, and review your veteran home loan status to ensure you are clear to proceed. Observe these four steps and they will help you make a smart and smooth transition into becoming a homeowner.

Photo Credit: Marc Roberts

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