Real Estate Closings: The Complete Checklist

A real estate agent handing a house key to a homeowner in front of a "Sold" sign

Buying and selling homes privately can save you a lot of money in realtor fees and other costs, but it often means you must handle the closing on your own. If you plan to have a private real estate closing without the help of a title company or other closing company, it is important to know what you need. Here is a quick checklist of the things you will need to finalize a closing.

Agreement of Sale

If you have agreed to terms with someone, it is important that you memorialize it in writing. Under Pennsylvania law, real estate contracts are generally unenforceable in court if they are not in writing. Do not simply rely on a handshake deal, but get an agreement of sale. Once this document is signed, it will be the centerpiece of the closing. The agreement of sale acts as the blueprint for all the other documents you must prepare.

Closing Summary Sheet

Often referred to as a HUD-1, the closing summary sheet is important because it shows all the money being moved between the parties. Technically, a HUD-1 refers only to certain types of transactions but in practice is used more broadly. This form shows who will pay which taxes and other closing costs as well as fees to attorneys, realtors, brokers, or other professionals who must be paid at closing. One reason that this document is so important and helpful is that it shows you at a glance the payment every person can expect to receive at the end of the day. This allows the closing agent to write out the checks knowing that everyone has seen and approved of these numbers.

Escrow Account

Although not technically required for a real estate transaction under Pennsylvania law, at least one party typically insists on or prefers to have purchase funds escrowed and split up by the closing agent. If money is escrowed, this usually is reflected both in the agreement of sale and in the closing summary sheet.

Who is Present at the Closing?

You will need to decide who should be present at the closing. Will everyone sign in the same place at the same time, or will they do so remotely or at different times? There is no right or wrong answer to this, although doing it all at the same place and at the same time clearly is easiest. You will need to have a notary available for each person who needs to sign a document so those signatures can be verified and notarized. Mobile notaries and remote notaries are available and can be obtained for unique situations, and modern technology has made it easier than ever to handle your closing no matter where you are.


The final critical piece of the transaction is preparing and recording the deed. This instrument is how title legally transfers from seller to buyer. Recording the deed puts all other parties on notice of the change in ownership, so there should be no major lapse in time between closing and recording it. It is important that you begin protecting your ownership interest in the property as soon after closing as possible.

If you are heading to closing and need help at any stage of the process, our attorneys can give you advice from beginning to end. We also can assist with securing a location for your closing. Call Cornerstone Law Firm today for any questions about your real estate closing.