Ten Steps to a Smooth Closing Avoiding Last-Minute Glitches

Congratulations! You've either found that perfect and your offer has been accepted, or you've identified a purchaser who has agreed to your sales price. Your application has been approved and now you're ready to proceed with the sales transaction. At this point, you probably feel that a great weight has been lifted and all you need to do is relax and let "the powers that be" do their thing.

Ideally, you should be able to do just that. But, in the real world, people make real mistakes - and these mistakes can cost you precious time and money, not to mention cause real problems at the closing. Delay, adjournment, and even cancellation of the transaction are most often the result of someone forgetting to do something prior to the closing table or neglecting to bring what they were supposed to bring.

But do not despair. There are certain measures you can take to minimize the chances of someone else's folly turning your purchase or sale experience into a nightmare. As Herbert L. Cohen, a partner with the Manhattan law firm of Stiefel and Cohen, says, "A closing is no place for surprises, so advance preparation is essential." To that end, here are ten steps to ensure that your transaction moves forward and that your closing is as smooth as possible.

1. Keep Records and Bring Documentation

Once the sales process gets under way, maintain written documentation of all conversations, agreements, questions and responses between yourself and other parties involved (for instance the buyer or seller, your attorney, the attorney for the other party, lending institutions and the closing department). While it would be nice to believe that people stick to their words, when it comes to a legal transaction such as the purchase or sale of an apartment, handshakes aren't enough and you shouldn't take anyone's word for anything.

Selective memory of what might have been said during a conversation is common when people have changed their minds or painted themselves into a corner, so write everything down and request, receive, review and retain copies of all correspondence from your attorney and from the other party's attorney and the management company. All documentation and records should then be brought to the closing to ameliorate any misunderstandings that might arise at the table.

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