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Can I Buy Real Estate Without Attending the Closing?

by Joe Stone

From beginning to end, the time period for closing your real estate purchase is usually measured in weeks or even months. Often times the closing date is delayed for reasons that are out of your control. These factors make your attendance at the closing problematic if you have other obligations, such as a job, that are not flexible. Fortunately, in most situations you do not have to attend the closing. However, if your attendance is necessary, you can give a trusted person a power of attorney to represent you at the closing.

Real Estate Closing Basics

Although the specific activity at closing varies by location, the purpose of the closing is to finalize your real estate purchase. This requires the person or company responsible for the closing to ensure that all required documents have been prepared, signed and ready for recording with the local government recording office. The closing is also used to handle transfer of funds, such as the down payment and loan, necessary to pay for the real estate, as well as pay any liens to clear title and cover the expenses related to the closing. In most situations the closing is handled by an independent third-party, such as a title or escrow company; however, local custom and practice may dictate that an attorney or your lender handle the closing.

Buyer's Closing Responsibilities

As the buyer, one of your responsibilities is to sign all required sale documents, such as the loan application, promissory note for your loan and closing statement. Although the sale contract specifies a closing date, these documents are typically prepared in advance of that date. In many cases, you can make arrangements to sign them at your convenience when they are ready. As the buyer, you are also responsible for depositing the funds to pay for the property and other closing costs. Your lender handles transferring the loan proceeds to the closing agent. Prior to the closing date you can deliver to the closing agent a certified check for your share of expenses.

Power of Attorney

If circumstances require you to leave the area before the documents are prepared and the closing date arrives, you can delegate your closing responsibilities to someone else by using a power of attorney. You can retain an attorney for this purpose or rely on a close friend or relative who you trust. Each state has its own requirements for a valid power of attorney. In general, the power must be in writing, state the powers granted -- such as signing real estate documents -- signed by you and adult witnesses, and notarized. Because the power of attorney is to be used in a real estate transaction, state law will most likely require that the original power be recorded with the local government recording office.

Other Considerations

Because you real estate purchase will involve a large sum of money, any one of the other parties involved in the transaction -- seller, lender, title insurance company or closing agent -- may want proof that your power of attorney is genuine. Depending on your state law, you or your agent may have to provide such proof if requested. For example, under Florida law your agent must provide a signed affidavit -- that is, a statement under penalty of perjury -- stating that you are not deceased and that the power is still in effect when requested by a party dealing with your agent.

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