In Minnesota real estate does not go into escrow before it changes hands we close at the table. That means that the home buyer and seller come together with a couple of closers and sign a pile of documents in a conference room with a big table.
Most of what the buyer signs is a pile of documents agreeing to pay back a loan and to make those payments on time.The seller signs a much shorter stack. The IRS wants to know about the money the seller receives and there is a state deed tax too.
Title work is done prior to the closing to determine legal ownership of the property and if there are any liens on it. The final water bill has to be paid by the seller because who ever owns the property is responsible for the water bill.
Closing often happen at the office of a title company and the buyer generally gets to choose the location. The bigger real estate companies sometimes own or have a financial interest in a title company. Consumers always have a choice and do not have to choose the company recommended by their real estate agent or lender.
Sometimes closings are delayed for a few hours, or days or even for a week. The closing date is a goal but it doesn’t always work out. The most common cause for delays comes from the lender. Sometimes it is just a missing document other times there are problems with appraisals or verification of funds or who knows what else . .
Delays can cause problems but rarely lead to the cancellation of the contract to purchase.
The typical closing takes about an hour and the buyers and sellers literally exchange money for house keys. Sometimes they exchange phone numbers too and the sellers tell the new buyers more about the house and the neighborhood.
Buyers and sellers have other options if they can not come to the closing. Either party can pre-sign and there are “mail away” closings too.