Real estate is one of the most important industries in the United States. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that this sector of the economy makes up nearly 12% of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). For many people, a real estate purchase (or real estate sale) is one of the most consequential transactions that they will ever make. 

Whether you are buying or selling residential or commercial property, it is crucial that you have an understanding of the real estate closing process. At Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA, we represent buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, developers, and brokers. Here, our Coral Gables real estate attorney highlights five key things that you need to know about the real estate closing process in Florida. 

  1. A Real Estate Closing is the Final Step in the Buying and Selling Process

To start, it is important to understand that a real estate closing is the final step in a transaction for the buying/selling of real property. The Legal Information Institute defines a real estate closing as the culmination of a deal and the moment “when the parties exchange deeds for payment and final signatures.” In other words, a real estate closing is the formal part of the process whereby the ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Most notably, a real estate closing is when the buyer pays the purchase price, and the seller officially transfers the property’s ownership to the buyer. Until a deal is “closed,” it is not done. Terms can change—and the transaction could potentially still be called off. It is important to get the closing right. 

  1. Funds are Protected Within an Escrow Account

Once an initial agreement to purchase real estate is reached, the buyer will generally put down some money as a deposit. You may hear these funds referred to simply as earnest deposit money. These funds are used to “hold” the property while the deal is going through the closing process. 

Where does this money go? It is typically held in escrow. An escrow account is set up by a neutral third party, known as an escrow agent, to hold the funds for the purchase of the property until the closing. The escrow agent acts as a neutral intermediary and ensures that the funds are disbursed correctly at the time of closing.

As explained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), escrow is legally required for certain types of mortgage transactions. Though even when not required, escrow accounts are still used in virtually all residential and commercial real estate transactions. If you have any questions about escrow, an experienced Florida real estate closing lawyer can help. 

  1. A Title Search and Title Insurance are Key Parts of a Real Estate Closing for Buyers

How do you know who owns real estate? How do you know that the property in question is free and clear of any potential claims? This is where a title search comes into play. For homebuyers and commercial property buyers in Florida, a title search is a critically important aspect of the closing process. Among other things, a title search involves researching the history of the property to ensure that the seller has the legal right to sell the property. All buyers should consult with a Florida real estate closing lawyer who has experience with a title search. Title insurance is also important. Simply put, title insurance is a form of coverage that protects the buyer from any potential claims or disputes that may arise from the title of the property.

  1. The Timeline of the Real Estate Closing Process Varies Based on Several Factors 

One of the most common questions that people have about real estate transactions in Florida is: How long does the real estate closing process typically take? The most accurate answer is that it depends on a wide range of different factors, including the complexity of the transaction, the type of property, and the availability of all parties involved. For residential real estate in South Florida, a general timeline for a real estate closing is 30 to 60 days. In other words, it typically takes somewhere between one month and two months from the date an agreement is reached until a residential real estate transaction is finalized (closed). Commercial real estate closings typically, but not always, take a bit longer to close. 

  1. Get it Right: Residential/Commercial Transactions Can Fall Apart Until the Last Minute

One of the most important things to remember about real estate closings is that the transaction is not done until the closing is complete. Even when an agreement has been reached, and all parties are on good terms, many different issues can still arise. Indeed, it is not uncommon for things to go wrong in a real estate transaction between the agreement and the actual closing. 

It is essential for buyers, sellers, and other implicated parties to review all documents and be aware of any contingencies that could potentially disrupt the closing process. Even in the last stages of the process, it is important to be vigilant to ensure that the transaction goes smoothly. You do not have to go it alone. A Florida real estate lawyer with experience handling title issues and real estate closings can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights and your interests are protected each and every step of the way. 

Contact Our Coral Gables, FL, Real Estate Closing Lawyer Today

At Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA, our Florida real estate lawyers are committed to representing buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, developers, and brokers with a comprehensive range of real estate and title needs. If you have any questions about real estate closings, we are here to help. Call us at 305-669-5280 or send us a direct message for a confidential consultation. From our Coral Gables law office, we are well-positioned to handle real estate closings throughout Southeast Florida.