Working through the mortgage process doesn't have to be stressful. Simply follow this checklist to guide you in your preparations. Use it in combination with the background information on this site and the guidance your loan officer provides, and you should feel knowledgeable and comfortable in all stages of your purchase.
- Choose a lawyer or notary (if not already done) and send him/her the signed purchase offer as soon as possible. Review the fees and disbursements, anticipated adjustments, property transfer tax, mortgage deductions and other closing costs. Talk to your attorney about how you plan to be registered on title
- Satisfy any outstanding conditions, such as financing or a home inspection, within the time frame set by the offer. Be sure you fully understand how to keep the contract alive, and how to cancel it if the conditions can't be satisfied.
- Once your mortgage application has been approved, make sure you receive a mortgage commitment and send a copy to your attorney.
- Any tenants must either cancel their leases or sublease their current premises, if permitted. How much prior written notice is needed will vary, so check it out with your lawyer.
- Arrange insurance coverage to take effect on closing. Be sure the insurance agent provides your lawyer with written confirmation before closing, showing the name of the insuring company, the amount of coverage, its expiration date and the name of any lenders in the loss payable clause. Coverage should be for the full insurable value of the building only (not the land), on a replacement cost basis.
- Contact the water, electric and gas departments to have the meters read on closing, new accounts set up in your name and final bills sent to the seller. Many buyers do a "double-check" a few days before closing, just to be sure. Contacting the telephone and cable TV companies is also your responsibility.
- Plan to meet your lawyer a day or two before closing to review and sign all closing documents. Don't wait for the actual closing date, when so many other things must be done. At that time you should deliver the money needed for closing, in certified funds, payable to your lawyer in trust. Be sure to get information about any payments due right after closing - the mortgage, property taxes or condominium maintenance.