A Seabrooker’s Guide to Closing on your Coastal Haven
First, we would like to congratulate you on the purchase of your dream home on Seabrook Island, South Carolina’s coastal hidden gem! If you have already fallen in love with our private community, get ready to be blown away by our exquisitely pristine beaches, iconic marsh views, and luxurious Beach Club amenities that will provide fun for you and all of your guests.
We know that behind all of the excitement of choosing and purchasing a new home, the process can sometimes be complicated and overwhelming. That’s why our Seabrook Island real estate agents help you throughout the process so you can spend your time exploring and getting a taste of everything island life has to offer.
Getting the keys to your beach sanctuary on closing day is truly exciting, and understanding the process that you and your Seabrook real estate agent will work through beforehand is very helpful. There are usually a handful of steps your agent will walk you through over the course of a few weeks, starting with the opening of an escrow account and ending with a final walkthrough. As you read on, we hope to help you understand what the next steps are after purchasing your home on Seabrook Island, so that the process is as smooth as possible for you and your family.
What Should I Expect When Closing a Listing?
The goal of a closing is to obtain signatures from the buyer and seller on all of the necessary paperwork so that ownership can be properly transferred to our newest community member. During this process, your agent will help you file necessary documents with the local town of Seabrook and South Carolina state record offices. It may be helpful for you to also review a closing checklist.
At the end of the escrow period, you will also pay any necessary transfer taxes and other claims, costs, fees, or adjustments. During the tail end of the transaction, our closing agents will assist you in understanding and completing the necessary paperwork for recording the loan for the purchase of your new residence.
What Happens During the Escrow Period?
Scheduling the Closing
The first step of the escrow process is scheduling your closing. Your Seabrook Island realtor will send a copy of the contract with a request to schedule the closing at a specific date and time, as provided in the contract of sale, to an attorney licensed in South Carolina. An attorney is required to supervise and review the title search of the property, conduct the closing, supervise the recording of the legal documents as well as the disbursement of the funds from the closing.
The attorney’s office will then contact you and your realtor, as well as the sellers, to get any information needed for the closing. Information that will be needed from you includes contact information (phone number and email address), lender name and contact information, loan information, and the name of your insurance agent or agency for homeowner’s insurance.
Opening an Escrow Account
Before entering the closing process, you will set up an escrow account, which is held by a neutral third party on behalf of you and the seller. This prevents either party from being unfairly treated until everything is settled. Once the formalities are complete, your money will be transferred from the account to the seller, while you receive any relevant documentation for your new home.
Conducting a Title Search
While preparing to close your listing, your supervising attorney will order a thorough search of your new home’s public records – from deeds, discovered mortgages, and assessments to liens, legal wills, divorce settlements, and potential property claims. This step ensures that the title to your property is ready for transfer by verifying that it’s legally owned by the seller. Once the search is finished, a title commitment, also called a preliminary report, is written. Our agents encourage title insurance when purchasing your home, as it protects you from any potential losses if public records were flawed, outdated, or incomplete. This provides you extra peace of mind and a legal safety net.
Working through Negotiations
We know that closing can be a lengthy process, especially with the excitement of moving to our special community! That is why our agents are trained and ready to help you negotiate the price of your new property. With home and pest inspections being a crucial part of preparing to move in, we can help you work through if any adjustments to the purchase price should be made on your behalf.
Completing a Home Inspection
The inspection of your home is essential during the escrow period. This step involves a physical examination of your new residence and its surroundings. It allows you the opportunity to back out of the purchase or request the seller to fix any serious, unexpected problems with a home-inspection contingency in the agreement. Some focuses of the inspection include:
- The lot as a whole, especially drainage areas
- The strength of key structural components such as the foundation and framing
- The roof system including shingles, flashing, and skylights to identify weak spots, loose shingles, signs of aging and decay
- The exterior components such as siding, soffit, porches, balconies, walkways, railings, and driveways
- The condition of the walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, stairs, and railings in the interior and attic
- The electrical system, testing switches and noting malfunctions
- All components of the plumbing system, including pipes, drains, water heaters, sump pumps, and sewer lines
- Appliances that come with the home, for example, the stove, dishwasher, or refrigerator
- The heating and cooling systems throughout the house
Conducting a Pest Inspection
A pest inspection, separate from the home inspection, involves a specialist ensuring that your new home doesn’t have any detrimental insects such as termites. Many mortgage companies mandate that even minor pest issues be fixed before closing, and in some states, this step is legally required.
Working through Renegotiations
Even if your offer has already been accepted, we can help negotiate the price of purchase on your home if inspections reveal any unexpected problems. There’s no harm in asking, even if you are purchasing a home as-is!
Securing an Interest Rate
Interest rates, including those with the mortgage offer, are volatile and often change, depending on location, type of property, type of loan, and credit score. If possible, try to lock in the interest rate for the loan in advance, rather than waiting for market changes to occur.
Removing Contingencies in the Approval Process
Our real estate agents on Seabrook Island will remove each contingency on your offer in writing, by dates outlined in your contract. This is referred to as the active approval process. We can also opt for a passive approval, where contingencies are automatically approved on an outlined date unless protested earlier. Contingencies usually include:
- Obtaining financing at an interest rate affordable to you
- A problem-free home inspection
- Full disclosure of known problems with the home from the seller
- Completion of any agreed-upon repairs
- A clean bill of inspection from a pest specialist
Meeting Funding Requirements
When you sign the purchase agreement, you will likely deposit earnest money to indicate good faith and your serious interest in the home. Should you back out of the transaction, this money goes to the seller whereas, if the seller backs out, it goes to you. To complete the transaction on your home, you will deposit additional money into your escrow fund.
Other Considerations for Your New Home
As with all coastal communities, Seabrook Island is subject to extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes and flooding. Be sure to do your research on insuring your new piece of paradise, so that in the event of extreme weather, your home and belongings will be covered. You might need to purchase homeowners’ insurance with supplemental hurricane coverage. Don’t forget to look into windstorm and flood policies. We know that insurance can be an investment, but consider it money well-spent if and when disaster strikes.
Completing the Final Walkthrough
One of the last steps before signing the papers to your new home is a final walkthrough of the property. This is when you and your agent make sure there are no more damages since the last inspections while performing a check for any agreed-upon repairs. This time also gives you a chance to make sure anything that should be included with the house is there.
If this process sounds overwhelming to you, don’t worry! Our Seabrook Island real estate agents are highly trained on all properties on the island and will ensure that the closing of your new home goes smoothly. Working with a Seabrook Island Real Estate Agent makes all the difference, as we are able to provide you with a personalized experience.
Whereas other agents can be eager to just make a sale, our agents truly value your needs and prioritize securing your dream home. We value you as a potential new member of the island, and are thrilled you will be joining us at the island Beach Club, our lush golf courses, the Seabrook Island Equestrian Center, and more!
Contact our Seabrook Island Real Estate office for the best real estate service possible!
Seabrook Island is Charleston's Truly Private Oceanfront Community. Membership in the Seabrook Island Club is required for ownership. Amenity use is for Members and their Guests Only. The Lakehouse is for use by Property Owners and their Guests as well.