Closing on a House Checklist for Buyers in California: Step-by-Step and What to Expect


The closing process is an exciting time for home buyers. Getting to this point means that you’re getting closer to having property fully in your hands!

The real estate closing process can get complicated for all parties. It’s important you check off every requirement to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. In this article, we’re breaking down the steps in the closing process as well as giving information on major checkpoints when you are closing a house.



  1. Opening an Escrow Account

When you have come to an agreement with the seller of a house and start the closing process, the first big task is finding an escrow company to help. An escrow is a safeguard, typically a third party, where sensitive documents, money, and information regarding the sale and closing process are safely kept.

Escrow companies are chosen based on the joint decision of the seller and buyer. Aside from safeguarding important things, escrow companies help:

  • Simplify document signing during the closing process (because there are a LOT of documents to sign)
  • Confirm all terms of the deal and agreements are met by both parties
  • Transfer titles, other ownership documents and money to each party

Getting an escrow secured is the best way to guarantee things will be done properly, hence why it’s done first!  New Venture Escrow can help get you there.

  1. Disclosure Signing

Soon after the escrow account is open for the property, the disclosure signing process starts. The major piece of paperwork in this stage is the seller’s disclosure.

This is basically the tell-all for the house in question, where all information about the house and the property condition is presented to buyers. If everything looks to be accounted for, the buyer signs off on it and the process moves into the next phase.

The time that a seller sends a property disclosure to you varies across the US, but you should expect to see it in the early stages of the closing process (first week), if not earlier.

Seller disclosures cover the history of the property and things that may affect the function of the house and/or property value. Things to look out for on the disclosure statement include:

  • Broken appliances/ utilities
  • Structural changes to the house
  • Additions to the floorplan
  • Damages to the property
  • Risk potential of property to natural disaster
  • Renovations to the house
  • Location relative to zoning boundaries
  • Environmental hazards

There are some dicey moments in the disclosure process that could cause a lot of trouble if you are not prepared for them.

If sellers refuse to offer disclosure or lie in the report, most states give you the right to cancel the deal if you did not sign off or accept the terms.

Some cases play out where a buyer bought the property and found damages that were not previously stated during closing. Laws protecting buyers enable them to request money equivalent to fixing the damages, or sue the previous owners.

  1. Inspections Commence

After the disclosure is wrapped up, the buyer will get their own reports of the property from several inspections. Even though the disclosure was signed off, buyers just have to be sure.

Third-party contractors get to fully inspect the property, checking all aspects of the house to ensure it is in good standing. From sewage to roof conditions, the house is thoroughly searched for damages, some that not even the seller would know about in some cases.

The results of the inspections allows the buyer to request repair work from sellers of adjustment of the price in some way. If the changes to the deal are accepted, the parties can move forward to the next stage of the real estate closing process.

  1. Get Your Appraisal Done

A housing appraisal finds the exact value that a property has in the market. This is mainly for lenders, so they can create a mortgage that fits the value of the home for the buyer.

Buyers will have to pay for third-party companies (ordered by whoever is lending the money to you) to evaluate the property based on factors like:

  • Size
  • Location
  • Condition
  • Amenities
  • Upgrades

Buyers are encouraged by lenders to have appraisal done as near to the close of the deal as possible. The common appraisal lifespan is 120 days and lenders do not want to offer up more money upfront past their value of the property (to protect their interests).

Once the appraisal is finished, the finish line will be within touching distance!

  1. Bringing the Deal to a Close

When you’re on the home stretch to getting the closing process done, things may start to pick up more and more pace. With a lot of moving parts in the latter stages, it is good to have an idea of what to expect.

What to Expect One Week Before Closing

There are a couple of tasks that you need to take care of on the way to the closing date:

  • Confirm that the meeting for closing is confirmed (date, time, schedule).
  • Make sure your Homeowner’s Insurance is established.
  • Gather the final amount of money needed for the transactions.

Closing Checklist for Buyers: What to Bring

Be sure to bring these items to the sale to make sure everything goes smoothly:

  • Photo ID
  • Funds to complete the purchase transaction (typically cashier’s check)
  • Any extra documents needed to finish the sale (e.g. proof of Insurance)

Day Before Closing on House

The last 24 hours would be the right time to conduct a final walkthrough with the seller before the close arrives. This serves as the last opportunity to run through the property and check if everything is up to scratch.

Be sure to check things like lighting, water flow, appliances and previous requests to repair stuff are complete. Keep a sharp eye!

Closing Day on a House

Be prepared for a lot of signing. All parties will meet at an agreed upon location, date, and time and sign off on all remaining documents.

After careful signing and the final finishing touches, titles are transferred, money is given to cover the closing costs, keys are handed over, and the transaction is complete. Success!

  1. Set a Move-In Date

How long after closing can you move in?

The move-in date is usually set in the terms of the deal with the selling party. Some cases set the move-in period for immediately after the deal is closed. Other cases set a move-in date for 30-60 days after the closing to accommodate the seller moving out-completely.

Make sure the terms are clearly stated in your best interest for when you want to move into your new home!

Make Your Closing Process Smoother

If you want to learn more about ensuring a smooth closing process, check out our full guide on the entire escrow process. If you need to speak to escrow agents, contact our team who can help you navigate escrow in real estate transactions.

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