was an increase in the amount that I was financing,” says Thomas.
Reviewing such documents in advance can help you solve problems that could jeopardize the agreement. “I read the documents over several times and had a guy I dated who is an attorney look them over for me as well,” says Thomas. She says you should ask the mortgage lender representing you at the closing to obtain the documents for you in advance.
Understand the provisions of the programs you participate in. There are a variety of first-time home buyer programs, so it’s up to you to understand what you are entitled to or what you are responsible for providing if you participate. For Hylick and Jones, certain forms had to be filled out by their lender in order for them to get the 100% financing they sought. The couple lost a week in the process because their banker “didn’t know what needed to be submitted to [ACORN], what things we needed to keep, and what things we needed to sign,” maintains Hylick. “Make sure whoever is doing your paperwork is familiar with the program [you're in] so that they get all the proper forms and they know everything they are supposed to turn in.”
Know how much money to bring to the meeting. This sounds like a very simple matter, but if you can’t meet the financial obligations in your loan agreement, the sale may not go through. “Find out in advance how much money you’ll need to bring with you, and who the checks should be made payable to,” says Dale Mattison, associate broker at Washington, D.C.-based Long and Foster Realtors. Fees for the title insurance company or inspections are common. “Typically, the realtor would help you do all of that kind of processing up front.”
Make sure all documents are fully executed. Missing or inaccurate information on important documents can delay your purchase. Hylick and Jones say it’s a good idea to
develop a checklist to keep track of forms that need to be completed so that everything is in place at the closing. “Whenever you do anything, like turn in forms, check it off the checklist and follow up to make sure papers were received,” says Hylick. “Everything that the bank sends you, send back ASAP. Then, don’t assume that they’ve received it and everything is going fine. You really have to go back and double-check with your loan agent or processor to make sure that they have everything so that your process runs smoothly and you stay on schedule.”
Mattison adds that it is the buyer’s responsibility to make sure that the title company has gotten all necessary signatures and all documents are recorded properly at the courthouse. “That house isn’t really yours until those documents are recorded at the courthouse,” he warns. “Normally, it’s done on the next business day, but it could take two to three business days.”
Don’t panic over errors. The calculation of closing costs typically generates most of the mystery and misery. “Buyers need to