The Closing Process for Home Buyers in Washington State

July 24, 2017
Last updated:
February 14, 2024
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In previous blog posts, we have covered the mortgage process in Washington State as well as the broader home buying process that encompasses it. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the real estate closing process for buyers in Washington.

If you are planning to buy a home in Washington State any time soon, it’s important for you to get familiar with the process so that you are adequately prepared for what’s to come. When purchasing real estate, you can expect the following steps in the closing process.

Real Estate Closing Process for Home Buyers in Washington

This process can vary slightly from one borrower to the next. With that being said, there are certain steps that occur for most home buyers in most scenarios. Here’s a look at the common stages of the real estate closing process in Washington State:

1. Title Search

Before you even sign documents at the closing, a title company will probably inspect the chain of title for the home you’re buying. Among other things, they want to ensure that there is a clear history of the title being transferred from one owner to the next, and that there are no disputes regarding ownership of the home. 

If any claims exist, they will need to be resolved prior to transfer of property ownership. Title insurance provides indemnity to the holder against any potential financial loss as a result of title defects. Both real estate owners and lenders are protected against damages from these defects.

Much of the title search process happens without any input or involvement from the buyer.

2. Documents Sent to Escrow

Shortly after the title search mentioned above, or maybe around the same time, your mortgage lender will send loan documents to the escrow company who is handling the closing. 

An escrow account is held by a neutral, unbiased party that holds all monies and documents involved in the deal until the transaction is done. Once the process is complete, the funds and documents are moved from this account to the buyer and seller. 

This typically happens after the underwriting process, when the underwriter determines that the loan and borrower are “clear to close.” But again, the real estate closing process can vary slightly. Learn more about the escrow process in Washington.

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3. Remove Contingencies

Buyers are encouraged to include contingencies in their offers, which protect them in the event that they walk away from the deal. The more common contingencies in real estate transactions include the following:

  • Home inspection contingency to identify issues with the home
  • Financing contingency to ensure the buyer can secure final loan approval
  • Appraisal contingency to ensure the home’s appraised value matches the purchase price
  • Home sale contingency to ensure the buyer’s current home sells by a certain date

Any contingencies included in a real estate contract must be removed in writing by a specific date before the deal goes through.  

4. Seller and Buyer Sign Documents

In some states, particularly on the East Coast, buyers and sellers sit at a table together to sign the closing documents. But in Washington State, the two parties can sign separately. 

As a home buyer, you will probably visit the escrow company on a scheduled date to sign your closing documents. This typically happens one to three days before the official closing date, but the exact timeline can vary.

5. Loan Funding

Once the home buyer has signed all of the closing documents, the escrow company will send them back to the lender for review. If everything is in order and all of the necessary signatures are in place, the lender will then fund the loan. 

This might happen on the scheduled closing date, or one or two days before. The timing of the real estate closing process in Washington can vary from one transaction to the next, due to the many variables involved.

6. Closing Day

Once all of the paperwork has been finalized, it will typically be delivered to the government recorder’s office. The recording of the deed creates an official record of the ownership transfer. This is when you officially become the owner of the home you have purchased.

Homebuyers should be aware of the costs associated with real estate purchases. Generally speaking, closing costs range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price of the home, which covers any of the following:

  • Escrow fees
  • Title insurance fees
  • Home inspection fees
  • Appraisal fees
  • Homeowners insurance paid in the first year
  • Property taxes
  • Document preparation fees
  • Mortgage loan origination fees
  • Discount points
  • Real estate commissions

It bears repeating: The closing process for home buyers in Washington generally follows a sequence of steps, as outlined above. In some cases, however, the process can deviate due to an issue that arises along the way. So it’s important to be flexible during this process, and to stay in touch with your loan officer regarding the status of your closing process.

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Need a Home Loan in Washington?

If buying a home in Washington is on your mind, you’ll want to partner up with a seasoned mortgage company that can help walk you through the mortgage process. At Sammamish Mortgage, we have been serving the mortgage financing needs of Washington home buyers since 1992 – as well as in Oregon, Idaho, California, and Colorado – and have many mortgage programs for you to choose from. Please contact us if you have mortgage-related questions, or if you would like to receive a rate quote.

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