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Closing Arguments: When the End Is Nigh

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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 philly@curbed.com.

Congratulations, you’ve found your dream home and you’re ready to rock home ownership. (You can do this!) It’s time for the buyer to hand over the money to the seller and the seller to hand over the keys. So what will happen at a closing? It varies, but here's one scenario.

Two closings may be taking place: the closing of the sale, and perhaps the closing of the buyer’s loan for the mortgage. Before you sign any papers, ask your agent to accompany you on the “final walk-through” together. You'll feel all tingly, trust us.

Pennsylvania is a no-attorney state when it comes to real estate, so there’s no need for a lawyer to be present. It’ll normally be just the buyer, the seller’s agent, and a rep from the mortgage company.

The attorneys will have a closing statement that breaks down the costs paid by the buyer and the seller, and how much money they should walk away with after broker's and attorney's fees, flip taxes, and the like are paid off. It will list the buyer’s and seller’s “debits and credits” in the transaction. These all have to be paid in certified checks—no need for burlap sacks full of gold to complete the transaction. Real Property transfer tax, usually paid by the seller, is also given at this time.

Go over as much as possible with your lawyer beforehand. You’ll need to sign a bunch of papers and bring a bunch of checks. If the buyer and seller are in agreement, it shouldn’t be too painful.

Then, finally, you will receive keys. You should really change the locks right away, but it’s a nice symbolic moment to savor or photograph and immediately upload online in a brag-post. Next up: paint swatches!