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What You Should Know About the Home Closing Process: An Interview with Adam Zuwerink, Attorney at Law

By Adam Zuwerink

Tell us a little bit about your experience, firm's history and the areas of law that you practice.

I have been practicing law in Muskegon since graduating law school in 2004. I started my own firm, West Michigan Law, after leaving a mid-size firm in February, 2013. My firm is focused almost exclusively on representing real estate and estate planning clients.

What's the role of an attorney in home closings in Michigan?

Unlike some states, an attorney does not have to review a residential closing in Michigan if a licensed real estate broker and/or land title company is involved with the transaction. Where we often get involved with the residential closing process is if the house was for sale by owner, the seller is not local, or a client would simply like the peace of mind that an attorney has reviewed all of the paperwork.

Can you list the basic steps in the home closing process?

After both parties have signed the purchase agreement, the buyer needs to immediately order a title commitment and schedule an inspection of the property. It is important to do these as soon as possible, so any problems uncovered can be resolved quickly or the agreement terminated.

Is there a common misunderstanding that you've noticed potential sellers and buyers have about the process?

From a big picture perspective, I have found buyers and sellers do not take the time to understand the paperwork before they sign. Both buyers and sellers should ask for everything (purchase agreement, title work, closing documents) at least a day in advance so it can be read and understood without time pressure.

What is something about buying or selling a home in Michigan that most people aren't aware of that they should know?

Everything is negotiable (even the real estate broker's commission). If something doesn't feel right about an answer that you have been given, do not accept, "That's just the way we always do it" as an answer. I have seen many incorrectly signed forms and unintended consequences as a result.

What are one or two things that the seller can do to help make the home closing process easier?

It is very helpful to have collected all relevant documents prior to listing the house, such as prior surveys, condominium documents, dates that repairs were made, etc. These are things that a buyer's mortgage company is going to need, and it is best to have them ready up front so closing is not delayed.

What are one or two things that the buyer can do to help make the home closing process easier?

First, make sure that you have met with a mortgage lender and are at least preapproved for the price of the house you want. Second, once the purchase agreement is signed, be prepared to immediately start the process of scheduling appointments and ordering documents to make sure there are no delays in closing that could lead to a loss of the earnest money deposit.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your firm?

You can find more information about our practice at www.westmichiganlaw.com, or contact me directly at adam@westmichiganlaw.com or 231.457.4235.

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