How to Close a Cash Land Transaction In-House (Full DIY Instructions!)

cash closing

REtipster provides real estate guidance — not legal advice.

The information below can be impacted by regional legislation and other unique variables. For the real deal, always consult with a qualified legal professional before taking action.


As a real estate investor and former commercial banker, I have closed hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of my career.

I've seen a lot of different situations and dealt virtually every type of buyer, seller, lender and property type imaginable. After working through many of the different scenarios that can materialize in the real estate closing process, I have to admit – I understand why most people are intimidated by the idea of closing a real estate transaction themselves. For understandable reasons – there can be a lot of confusion and fear about how to close a real estate deal without the assistance of a professional.

There always seems to be an endless pile of paperwork and a lot of legal hoops to jump through (everybody wants to protect themselves from liability, etc).  While some of this documentation is certainly good practice – I've learned that when you boil it all down, closing a real estate transaction is actually a fairly simple process – especially when it's an all-cash transaction (no financing or mortgages involved).

When you're buying a property for just a few hundred bucks (which is how most of my deals work) and you're already on a tight budget to begin with, it can be difficult to justify paying twice the amount of your purchase price just to close the darn thing. If you're in a situation where you need to act fast, acquire a property inexpensively and make the closing as easy as possible, closing it yourself may be the most advantageous way to move forward.

If you're in this kind of situation (or if you just want to understand how the process works, inside-and-out), I want to show you the exact steps I use when I'm closing a real estate transaction in-house. The process is very similar, regardless of whether I'm buying or I'm selling a property.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not an attorney and the information in this article should not be interpreted as legal advice. Every state has different laws and every real estate transaction has unique variables that can affect these standard documents listed below. Even though these are the exact steps & documentation that I use in my closings – don't assume that this information is fully applicable to your situation. Before you act on anything described below, be sure to consult with an attorney or legal professional in your area to confirm you're following the right steps and procedure.

Conducting a self-closed real estate transaction isn't appropriate for all people and situations. The process DOES require some significant attention to detail and organizational skills. Some people are very good at staying organized and keeping track of these details, and others aren't. Don't try to close your own deals unless you're willing to go slow and get the help you need to ensure you're completing each step in accordance with the laws and regulations of your state.

RELATED: Closing With An Attorney – When & Where is it Required?

Why Is This Important?

Being able to close a transaction in-house is a huge asset.  By handling this entire process in-house, you can minimize paperwork and make the process much less intimidating for the person on the other end of your transaction.

Depending on the property, you may even find that closing the transaction yourself can be faster and less cumbersome for everyone involved. If for no other reason – I've found that it's extremely helpful to have a basic working knowledge of how real estate transactions actually work. It's important to understand why title companies require what they do in a closing, which documents are an absolute must, and which documents are more discretionary in nature.

There are times when it is absolutely worth the money to hire a professional closing agent (I usually do it when I'm paying more than $5,000 for a property and/or if the property's fair market value exceeds $10,000), but when you're buying a property for pennies on the dollar, there are a lot of cases where you can easily close the deal yourself and get by without this added cost.

Whenever I close a real estate deal in-house, my closing checklist includes the following steps:

1. Purchase and Sale Agreement

Most real estate agents use a very long and confusing template for this contract – but this document doesn't need to be complicated. I use a very simple, 1-page document that lays out the basic terms of the deal (whether I'm buying or selling the property – the language is 98% the same in either scenario). It looks something like this:

Purchase Contract4

As you can see – this is a no-frills contract and the basic items included are as follows:

  • The date of the agreement, the date when the agreement expires, and the date by which the transaction must be closed
  • The purchase price of the property and how the price will be paid (e.g. – via cash, wire transfer, cashier's check, etc.)
  • The state, county, parcel number and legal description of the property being bought/sold
  • The name and signature of both the buyer and seller (in some states, these signatures will need to be witnessed by a third-party as well)
  • Details on which party will pay for closing costs (e.g. – property taxes, title work, recording fees, etc.)
  • How the seller will convey the title to the buyer (e.g. – via Warranty Deed, Quit Claim Deed, etc.)

If you're looking for some examples (which are a bit more complex and detailed than my template), you can also refer to a website like Rocket Lawyer or USlegal to find what you're looking for.

2. Title Search

For this part of the process, you can either hire a title company to issue you a title insurance policy (which will ensure there is a clear title to the property) OR you can try to complete the title search yourself.

If you're trying to do your own title search, here are some basic instructions on how to do it (you can also find more details here).

I do most of my own title searches these days, but only because I know what I'm doing. If you have no idea where to start (even after watching the video above), there's nothing wrong with playing it safe and hiring a title company to handle this for you. Pay attention to what they're doing, ask a lot of questions along the way and learn how to do it yourself for future reference.

3. Disclosure Statement

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 2.04

The purpose of this form is to ensure that when I'm selling a property,  the buyer is 100% responsible for doing their own due diligence, not me.

When I'm buying and selling properties at a rapid pace, I don't always have time to research every potential issue under the sun. I make a point of investigating the most common issues that are relevant to me and then I move forward.

Knowing that it's possible for the occasional property to have issues that I'm simply not aware of, the purpose of a Disclosure Statement is to confirm a few things in writing:

  1. The buyer understands that it's their job to do their homework before they purchase the property. I'm not going to be blamed for their lack of research.
  2. I (as the seller) am not assuming any liability or responsibility for issues I was never aware of in the first place.
  3. The buyer is releasing me of all liability in the transaction (i.e. – they won't turn around and try to sue me at the first sign of trouble).

Don't get me wrong – I've never even come close to getting sued or encountering legal issues with this type of thing, but if I ever did – a Disclosure Statement like this would be very helpful to have in my corner. This is why I've made it a standard order of business to always get this document signed when I am selling a property.

4. Deed

2016-06-15_15-00-06The deed is the most important item in a real estate transaction because it's the official document that transfers the property's legal title from one person or entity to another.

When all is said and done – the ultimate definition of who owns a property all comes down to what's written in the DEED. This is the document that everything else revolves around.

There are several different types of deeds that can be used when transferring real estate. Let's cover a few of the most commonly known ones (and what implications are inherent in each one)…

Warranty Deed

With a Warranty Deed, the seller is giving the buyer their “Warranty” (i.e. – Guarantee/Promise) that the title to the property is free and clear and the buyer will receive all reasonable rights to the property. This deed should only be used when the buyer knows for a fact that the property's title is clear of any liens and encumbrances. Most educated buyers will strongly prefer this type of deed (and if a lender gets involved – it will be required).

Most sellers are okay with signing a Warranty Deed because:

  1. This was the same thing they received when they bought the property.
  2. They paid for a title insurance policy when they bought the property, which protects them from any issues (should they arise).

If you’re not certain about whether the title is clear, don’t use this kind of deed when you're selling a property.

Quit Claim Deed

With a Quit Claim Deed, the seller is offering absolutely no warranty of any kind with regard to the property's title. By signing this document, the seller is simply saying,

“Whatever interest I may have in this property (if anything), I am transferring it to the buyer.”

A Quit Claim Deed provides no guarantees or promises about whether the title is clear – so if a buyer is willing to accept this, they should really be doing their homework to ensure the property has a clear chain of title.

Note: In my experience, most buyers have no idea what the difference is between these two types of deeds, and what implications come with each – but as an educated investor, this is a distinction that you definitely need to be aware of.

Special Warranty Deed

An alternative to the Warranty Deed and the Quit Claim Deed is the Special Warranty Deed. This type of deed is used when the seller is willing to guarantee that there were no defects that occurred with the property's title during the time they owned it.

With a Special Warranty Deed, the seller ISN'T necessarily saying the property has a spotless record going back to the beginning of time; only that it accrued no defects during their period of ownership (there's a big difference – and a Special Warranty Deed can help you spell this out).

Here's a little tutorial showing how to create a Special Warranty Deed with a service called RocketLawyer (you can use this same service to create a Warranty Deed and Quit Claim Deed as well).

Alternatively, if you're looking for an alternative source to get some blank deed templates, you can also check out USLegal (their templates aren't quite as user-friendly as Rocket Lawyer, but they also don't require a monthly subscription).

Title Vesting Information

When you're buying or selling a property – you'll also want to make sure the property is being transferred to the buyer with the correct ownership structure.

When a buyer is just a single person – it's pretty simple. You can just write their name and their marital status as “single”, “married” or “unmarried” (e.g. – John Smith, a single man).

If the buyer is a Corporation or an LLC, you can write the exact legal name of the entity and the state in which it resides (e.g. – XYZ Properties LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company).

However, if two or more people are buying or selling the property (like a married couple, for instance), you need to pay close attention to the details and verify how they should be holding or transferring the title. Some states use slightly different terminology – but these are some of the more common ways that two people can hold the title to a property.

  • Tenants by the Entireties
  • Joint Tenants
  • Tenants in Common
  • Joint Tenants with Full Rights of Survivorship

Again, you'll want to determine the correct terminology to use in your state in order to ensure you're drafting this part of the deed correctly.

5. Supporting Documentation

Many states require some additional “supporting documentation” as a way of notifying the local municipality (i.e. – City or Township) about the transaction that just took place.

The county should be fully aware of this change in ownership because they recorded your deed, but in many cases – the city or township administration is in a completely separate office and they don't share the same systems with the county. As such, they need to be notified separately about the property's change in ownership (and if they aren't made aware of the change, they'll continue sending the property tax bills to the old owner).

In most cases, this is a simple notification form that consists of one page, and it does a few key things:

  1. Lets the city/township know that the property has been transferred to a new owner.
  2. Informs the local Assessor of what the sale price was (which assists them in determining what the new assessed value of the property should be).
  3. Notifies the local Treasurer of who/where they should be sending all future tax bills.

Unfortunately, the exact name of this document varies quite a bit from state to state, so even though it serves the same basic purpose, it can seem a bit more complicated than it really is. For example:

  • In Arizona, it's called an “Affidavit of Property Value” and it looks like this.
  • In Michigan, it's called a “Property Transfer Affidavit” and it looks like this.
  • In Nevada, it's called a “Declaration of Value” and it looks like this.
  • In Maine, it's called a “Real Estate Transfer Tax Declaration” and it looks like this.
  • In Hawaii, it's called a “Conveyance Tax Certificate” and it looks like this.

If you're not sure whether your state requires this form, this video explains how you can figure it out…

See what I mean? You get the idea.

6. IRS Form 1099-S

2016-05-27_16-00-36In many (though not all) situations, the person responsible for closing the transaction is required to file Form 1099-S with the IRS.

There are some exceptions where this form isn't required, but as a general practice, if you're planning to facilitate the signing of these closing documents yourself, it's a good idea to either:

  1. Plan on filing this form yourself.
  2. In a written agreement, designate the other party as the responsible person.

Whether you file the form yourself or designate the other party to do so – it's a fairly straightforward process (but it can take a bit of learning if you've never done it before). To learn more about why the 1099-S is important and how you can handle the filing process in your closings, check out this blog post.

Record Keeping

Once a transaction is closed and everything has been signed, sealed, recorded and delivered, you should keep copies of all the fully executed documents in your file (and you should make sure the other person in your transaction has copies of these things as well).

Closing your own real estate deal doesn't have to be difficult. When I am buying or selling a property with a cash sale (most of my deals are cash transactions these days), it's just a matter of taking the time to ensure that all the documents are completed with the correct information, signed by all appropriate parties and then sent to the appropriate places for recording (the deed should be sent to the county for recording and the supporting documentation should be sent to the local city, township or municipality office for their records).

Document Templates

Rocket-Lawyer-LogoOver the years, I've played with a lot of different versions of the above-mentioned documents. Some of these forms (i.e. – the deed) may need to be tailored slightly depending on what state your property is in but don’t let this intimidate you.

A lot of attorneys would love you to believe you have to cough up $1,000+ every single time you need to close a deal. There may be the occasional case where you have a VERY complicated deal that ought to be handled by an attorney (and in some states, the involvement of an attorney is requiredsee this blog post for more information), but I've found that in many cases, there is nothing wrong with using these basic templates to close transactions in-house.

uslf-general-300_250In my first several years of closing my own deals in-house, I used USlegal as a resource to get the document templates I needed. These days, I use Rocket Lawyer for most of my closing documents, simply because they do a great job of making the process easy.

Whatever you decide to do – realize that it doesn't take a huge investment to get the basics you'll need to close your own deals. You could literally save yourself thousands of dollars in attorney fees with these online resources (and don't forget, most of these templates can be uses over and over again).

Need More Help?

As you’re nearing the end of this guide, all of this information may seem overwhelming.

Don’t panic and don't try to become an expert overnight. I can tell you from experience that my first self-closing felt like a marathon, but it gets significantly easier on the second, third and fourth time through the process (and every subsequent time thereafter).

Closing your own real estate deal doesn't have to be difficult – but it is important to go slow and make sure you're completing each step of the process correctly.

Unfortunately, I can't provide the exact legal documents and instructions for every one of your closings because I'm not an attorney and there are an endless number of variables that can affect your closing documents.

At the same time, the standard closing process involves a fairly similar set of documentation to get the job done… and if you need help connecting the dots and understanding how the process works, I’d love to help you get there.

When I was closing my first few deals, I had a TON of questions and it would have been very helpful if someone could have simply held my hand and thoroughly explained what each document was all about, what kinds of issues to watch out for and how to navigate through each step of the process.

With this in mind, I spent several months putting together a full-blown course that explains how this process works from start-to-finish. The course is designed specifically for people working in the land investing business, and it comes with dozens of video tutorials and document templates that give an in-depth explanation of each step along the way.

It's all available as part of Module 6 in the REtipster Club – so if that sounds like it might be helpful, be sure to check it out!

Learn More at REtipster.Club

Closing With Seller Financing?

The steps above are fairly similar to transactions that involve owner financing. The primary exception is that a deal that involves owner financing requires a few additional documents. Depending on the state and the specifics of the transaction, some seller financed deals will make the most sense to use in conjunction with a land contract (aka – contract for deed), which I explain in this blog post). Likewise, other seller financed deals will make more sense to use in conjunction with a Promissory Note and Deed of Trust, which I explain in this blog post.

My hope is that you'll start to realize just how doable this process actually is. Once you get comfortable with these steps and the specifics that pertain to the state your property is located in – it is entirely possible to start closing deals yourself.

Free Webinar With Seth and Jaren

You are invited to an exclusive webinar with Seth Williams and Jaren Barnes on Wednesday, October 24 at 8:00pm EDT (5:00 PDT).

Jaren will be hosting a live presentation addressing some of the most critical elements involved with finding deals and motivated sellers in the land business.

In this live webinar, you’ll get the scoop on how to choose the right market, how motivated sellers think, where to find them and what to say ( including some of the best tips, tricks, stories and lessons you’ll need to know as you start pursuing cheap land deals on your own). You won’t want to miss it!

Space is limited, so register now to hold your spot!

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About the author

Seth Williams is a land investor and residential income property owner, with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  • Your shared information about In-house real estate transaction is very helpful & related to realtor’s business. Thanks for sharing this useful data.

  • Austin Smith says:

    Hey Seth! I just got this article after finish reading “Why You Cannot Ignore Professional Photography in Real Estate Investing” on your blog. Thanks for all value articles. They are really helpful for readers. Just keep working hard on that.

  • Jim says:

    I would also recommend joining a platform (I have used something called eBuyHouse.com myself) to help you process the paper work and other things when buying a home from a private seller. Right now eBuyHouse is free to use

  • TC says:

    Seth, I have been reading your blog and like so many before me have said, the depth and clarity of information has been invaluable. I have sent out my first mailers and hope to source my first deal in the coming weeks. I have spoken with title attorneys and will be having them run the closing.

    I will be buying your purchase agreement template once I find my first deal, but I have one question. Does the purchase agreement need to be notarized? I want to make sure I am 100% clear on this part of the process since so much of this business depends on making the seller’s life easy.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi TC, thanks for the kinds words, that’s great to hear!

      No, the purchase agreement doesn’t need to be notarized – however, in some states (like Michigan, for instance), you technically need to get a witness signature to go along with each party’s signature (the witness doesn’t need to be a notary, it can be pretty much anyone). That being said – there’s nothing “wrong” with getting a notary’s signature on this, it’s just overkill.

      Also, for the record, even in the states where a witness signature is required, I’ve actually missed this on a number of occasions and the title companies have still been happy to close them for me… so take that for what it’s worth.

  • Laura says:

    Hi Seth, thank you for all this information, it’s a great post! I have a question hopefully you can help. My dad is selling his house to a company that buys “as is” in cash, they’re the ones doing all the work and they told me he would just have to sign the documents that they would send to closed the deal, (they’re also paying all closing cost) the thing is that the house is located in Georgia and my dad lives in Indiana, so they said they would send the documents to my email and he can do the e-sign. He already sign a Standar Purchase and Sale Agreement, I asked them if my dad needs to sign the documents in front of an attorney or notary and they said no, it’s this true? Since I don’t have any expertise on this I’m just helping my dad because he doesn’t speak English, I’m a little worry that I might be doing something wrong by not asking the right questions. Also for the payment they said they’re going to make the payment to the mortgage company and then send my dad the remaining money as a wire or cashier check whichever my dad prefers, is this also right? Help please!

    • Hi Laura – in pretty much every case, you’ll have to at least sign the deed in front of a notary, so it’s a little strange they didn’t mention that. If they aren’t going to use a title company, that’s not necessarily a deal-killer thing, but it means they really need to understand what they’re doing, and how to get everything properly documented and closed (and if they didn’t mention the deed/notary thing, that makes me wonder).

      Part of the reason for a title company is not only to help facilitate the closing, but also to make sure everything is prepared properly, and (perhaps most importantly) to be a mediator who can handle the documentation and transfer of funds (making sure both parties do everything completely, and that you actually get paid). If there’s no title company involved with this closing, I would be sure your dad and the mortgage company get paid either before or at the same time your dad is signing his documents, to ensure that everything is completed, and you/he actually gets paid.

      If there’s a lot of money involved in this deal (like, more than a few thousand dollars) and if you’re AT ALL unsure about their level of competence or trustworthiness – then I wouldn’t hesitate to push for a professional title company or closing attorney to get involved. That will resolve pretty much all of the issues that can come up in this kind of scenario. If you don’t know them well, then you have every reason to be skeptical for your own sake.

  • Glenn says:

    Great article Seth! I just recently bought my first parcel of land which I closed myself and this article was a HUGE help. I was actually able to find someone on Fiverr to do the title search for me pretty cheaply.

    I have a question about the Disclosure Statement; where exactly do I find this? I’m assuming this can be found on US Legal or Rocket Lawyer but what exactly am I looking for? Do you have an example of this document? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

    • That’s awesome Glenn! Thanks for letting me know! I’m glad the article was helpful.

      The disclosure statement is actually something I put together for myself (it’s not a template you’ll find anywhere). It’s not technically a requirement, I just use it to cover myself from any potential liability, in case a buyer didn’t do all their homework and tries to blame me for something, this is their way of stating that all their own due diligence is up to them to complete.

      I have this document available for members of the REtipster Club to download for free, but it’s not something you can get here on the blog (because it’s pretty specific to land transactions, and I wouldn’t want people trying to use it for selling houses or other types of real estate, because it’s not really intended for that). Does that make sense?

  • Ruth says:

    Thank you so much, i was so confused, going through all the information about buying land, almost in to tears, but i’m glad i didn’t give up and found youf website, you made me feel at ease, now i can research, with out fear, so Thanks again!

  • Billy warren says:

    If you are selling a house for a cash contract can you make them bring cash.

    • Seth Williams says:

      I’m not sure I understand your question Billy. If you’re selling a house for cash, then that’s typically how you should expect to receive the payment (in the form of a cashier’s check). Is that what you’re asking? If not, perhaps you can you rephrase that?

  • Bob Rutledge says:

    I have a commercial building for sale and the buyer is willing to pay 210,000 cash deal. The property is free and clear. Do you recommend self closing or using an attorney and or title company? This is in the sate of Virginia.
    Thanks,
    Bob

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Bob. For a property like that, I would NOT do a self-closing.

      Closing a real estate deal involves a fair amount of work and attention to detail (and of course, there’s always the chance that you could do something wrong). With a property like what you’re describing, the value that a professional closing agent brings to the table is a pretty easy thing to justify spending money on. In Virginia, I believe either an attorney or a title agency could do the job (but this kind of thing varies from state to state, so you may want to ask a local real state agent what they recommend).

      Best of luck!

      • Augustus says:

        Hello Seth,

        Is it legal to do a wholesale assignment closing yourself without a Title Company or Attorney in Florida? The wholesaler has the property under contract with the owner and the wholesaler is assigning it to the buyer and will receive an assignment fee.

        • Seth Williams says:

          I’m honestly not sure – some states have some odd laws around this, and I’m not sure how Florida works.

          For what it’s worth, I do know of at least one wholesaler who has worked in Florida for years (though he does use a title company for every deal, he doesn’t close them himself). Given the logistical challenges with assigning contracts, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do these types of deals without a title company – it requires A LOT more running around and coordination than just paying cash and buying the property yourself.

  • Brian Entz says:

    Seth, I hope I’m not pestering with too many questions. Your web site has been invaluable. It’s probably covered on your web site, but I may have missed it: In a purchase transaction where we are closing the deal ourselves with a Notary, when do we mail the seller their cashier’s check. After the County returns your stamped documents? Supposing the seller is uncertain. What would you think of (A) leaving the cashiers check with the Notary to mail directly to the seller upon recording of the transaction or (B) including something in the packet we mail to the effect of “transaction will be voided if seller does not receive payment in the agreed upon amount of _________________ within two weeks of recording”. I like the idea of including a copy of the cashiers check. Or is this just too much of me worrying over nothing?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Brian – that’s a great question. This is probably the most difficult part about closing a deal without a third party closing agent – because without this third party making sure both the buyer and seller perform… you essentially have to trust each other on some level.

      One way you can do this is by using a third party escrow service like SafeFunds.com (I’ve never used them, but I know some who have and I’ve heard it works well). You could also give the cashier’s check to your mobile notary (if you’re using one) and they can deliver it to the seller after they’ve completed their documents. You could also just make a copy of the cashier’s check (to give the seller evidence that you have the money and it’s ready to go), and send this to them along with their docs to complete… and then you could mail it to them AFTER you receive everything from them.

      Each approach has it’s pros and cons – and it does take more hassle to close it yourself rather than using a title company or closing attorney… so these are definitely things to keep in mind if you decide to go this route. You’ll definitely save money by doing an in-house closing, but it’s also a bit more complicated and time-consuming to handle everything yourself.

  • Jaden Ghylin says:

    Seth, great article! Your website has helped me tremendously, starting with your yellow postcards. That’s how I got my foot into the marketing world. Thank you for all the help!

  • tom says:

    hi seth i want to know something how do i go about buying a home from my neighbor for cash 68,000 should i use a attorney and get title insurance

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Tom – if I were in your shoes with a project like that, I would definitely be using an attorney or title company to close the transaction for me. The cost is totally worth it – considering the attention to detail and the workload they’ll take off your back. Good luck!

  • Walt Greene says:

    Seth, I’ve been really enjoying your posts and studying them for a few days now and decided to purchase your wholesaling package. I do have a couple questions for you and forgive me if they are answered somewhere else:

    1. What type of deals should I look into doing first (i.e. what is the best way to get my feet wet)? I have been personally looking into going the tax delinquency search route, since it makes the most sense in finding ultra-motivated sellers … any advice in that would be greatly revered and appreciated.

    2. What states do you personally know that these assignment contracts will work in/won’t work in – do you have a running list that we can download or see on the site?

    Post Script: I do have some cash to work with and I also have the ability to build my own high quality buyer/seller/whole seller website that offers contact i/o at a much cheaper rate than something like the ones you’ve mentioned … i don’t know if that info will alter your answer at all.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Walt – certainly. The delinquent tax list could be a solid way to get started. I typically look for land deals when I’m wholesaling, whereas most wholesalers are doing land… so that would be one key difference in the types of deals I look for (mainly because land is a much simpler type of property to work with – even though there may be fewer buyers for this type of property).

      As for which states these forms work in, I definitely haven’t used them everywhere – but I have used them in a handful. The best way to verify their validity would be to contact a local title company and just send them both templates. As them, “If I get you the fully executed copies of these documents, will you be able to close the deal for me – or do you need to see something else?” This is usually a good way to test the waters before you actually go through the work of getting the contracts signed.

      I hope that helps – good luck!

  • Alan Aho says:

    Seth,

    Great information, thanks for sharing.

    When you are closing a smaller deal yourself, how to you handle the exchange of funds? Do you use an escrow service or handle it yourself? Just curious about the checks and balances and both parties being comfortable with the closing process.

    Thanks,
    Alan

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Alan – great question. When I do a closing myself, there are a few ways I can take a buyer’s payment:
      – They can send me their cashier’s check first, and then I’ll send them the deed (however, for understandable reasons, some people are willing to do this, others aren’t).
      – They can meet with me in-person (this is only if they won’t do it by mail – in this case, I’ll make them come to me and meet me in a public place… I won’t drive hours to meet them where they are).
      – Using a mobile notary (this can be a nice option, but it does cost money, their reliability can vary, and they aren’t readily available in all areas).
      – Using a title company (if all else fails, a title company will make this whole dilemma much easier – but this option also costs the most. If you don’t want to pay this cost, you can always have the buyer cover it too – if they’re willing).

  • Esther Graf says:

    Hi Seth, I am selling my house as is cash only. I have two buyers. One is using a loan from Chase bank. I am a senior citizen and my first time to sell a house free and clear (bought it cashed). Should I just let the bank do all the paper work on closing the deal? not sure what to do and I don’t want to loose my house for nothing because I am only getting social security retirement.
    Thank you for your advice.
    Sincerely,

    Esther Graf

    P.S. I live in California

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Esther – if I were in your position, I would let the bank and/or title company handle the closing. They know these procedures inside and out, and with the closing costs involved, it usually makes more sense to let the professionals handle it… especially if you aren’t planning to do a lot of these “self-closings” on an ongoing basis (as a business).

      I only handle self-closings on VERY cheap deals that I’m buying and selling (when the property’s value is less than $10K)… so if you’re working with a property that has substantial value, it’s usually an easy choice to outsource this work to someone who does it every day (rather than trying to figure it out yourself).

      Good luck!

  • Paul John says:

    Seth – lots of interesting reading on the web page retipser.com: how to close cash transactions. I have 2 questions I’m hoping you can answer.

    My neighbor wants to buy my cabin and the vacant lot next to it that I also own for $30,000 cash, total. Would that be two separate transactions with paperwork for each? The vacant lot is only worth $1000, but I get tax bills for both the vacant lot and the cabin property.

    I have a mortgage on the cabin property. How do I go about paying off the mortgage holder? Should I have a title company involved in this case to make sure the bank gets their money and signs off on their lien?

    My neighbor and I both want to do this as inexpensively as possible. I’m not expecting to make much more than what is needed to cover the mortgage payoff and a little extra to cover closing costs. I’m not sure what level of professional help needs to be involved, but the realtor who handled the deal for the home I just bought said it was as simple as contacting a title company to cover the necessary paperwork. Is that true?

    Any advise you can give is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Paul J.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Paul – you could sell two parcels with one Purchase Agreement and Deed. There may be some other considerations that come into play when selling a cabin (i.e. – “improvements”), but in terms of the simple deed aspect of it, most states make it possible to list the legal descriptions of both properties on one document.

      In terms of paying off the mortgage, you’d have to work directly with the lender to make sure they get paid and that they discharge their mortgage. If you’re unsure about how the process works, then honestly – it probably is best to just work with a title company. It may cost a few hundred dollars more – but for a property like what you’re describing, that’s what I would be doing anyway (I use title companies for anything in excess of $10K). They will take all the guesswork out of this process and make it WAY easier to get the job done.

  • carlton says:

    Your website was very helpful to me. It really answered a lot of my questions concerning the closing process, and I will be sure to utilize all of the resources you have provided.
    Thank you.

  • paula says:

    Ontario Canada,,,,,can you purchase a mobile home in cash on leased land…WITHOUT a lawyer ? and how ? thanks in advance !

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Paula – I haven’t done any work in Ontario and I’m not sure how the law works up there. Sorry about that!

      You could always try calling a closing office and ask them if there are any attorney requirements in your area – I’m sure they could give you the answer pretty quickly.

  • Rod Hall says:

    Great stuff! I found some very helpful nuggets in your tutorials. I really appreciate it. Regarding buying from a trust and the affidavit of trust document. What if there are two individuals in the trust? This would be often the case. Do both trustees need to sign?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Rob – great question, I’ve never encountered that before. My gut is telling me “yes”, but I’m thinking you’d probably have to talk with a professional closing agent (or maybe even an attorney) to be 100% sure. Sorry I can’t give you a complete answer on that!

  • B Hakim says:

    Hi Seth!

    I had a question related to buying land lots from over the counter tax deeds (stuff people didn’t buy from tax deed auctions), which I know isn’t what you mainly focus on here going after owners BEFORE the tax auction (but I have nothing for a marketing budget now). As I understand it, if you buy land tax deeds over the counter, the county gives you a quitclaim deed. We are probably going to be getting quitclaim deeds anyway from many customers we buy land from as well, so I guess there is some relevance to this question.

    I’ve heard that it’s very hard to sell land/property with a quitclaim deed, and buyers (whether investors or the open market in general) will only want warranty deeds. So without me having to spend $2000 or so doing a quiet title or using Tax Title Services to make the deed fully clean and marketable and insurable, could you go into some depth explaining how to quickly flip/wholesale land parcels that I’m offering and advertising with a quitclaim deed I got from the county? What do I need to know for this, and how do I structure it to make it attractive, and what steps are involved? Is this something that investors/rehabbers are fine with accepting (if the price is attractive?)

    I want to get my head around this and grasp it well so that I can move quickly and smoothly. Thanks so much!

    • Seth Williams says:

      If you’re selling a cheap property (less than $10,000) and if you’re closing the deal yourself (without a title company or attorney in the mix), I think you’ll find that many buyers won’t care about title insurance and as a result, it won’t be a huge show-stopping issue if you received a quit claim deed when you bought it.

      You may find the occasional buyer that takes issue with it, but many of them won’t when you’re dealing in this price range.

      Now, when you get into the more expensive properties, as a general rule – it’s usually safer to work through a title company on those (and it’s easier to justify the costs too), and in those cases, you may not have a choice but to do a quiet title action, because the deal won’t close without this extra step. But again, since there will most likely be more profit baked into these larger deals, it may be easier to justify these costs.

      All in all, you’ll want to factor these potential costs into any deal before you move forward. If you think a certain procedure will be required in order to sell, you should consider those costs as part of your overall acquisition price – and if the math doesn’t work, don’t do the deal.

  • Marvell says:

    Thank you for the information this was so helpful.

  • Heather says:

    Hi Seth!

    First, let me say that your site has proven invaluable for me as a fledgling investor! Unfortunately, I guess you could say I bit off a little more than I could chew. I devoured your blog and dove in, head first. I found a good deal on a raw piece of land, pulled the trigger, and it’s now for sale on eBay.

    I talked to the county just to be sure I had my ducks in a row. The woman I spoke with threw in at the last minute, “oh, don’t forget the affidavit of property value.” Um, ok, can do! Did I mention this was in Arizona? Next step..what the heck is this? Now I’m trying to figure out what exactly I need to do.

    I found the affidavit that you linked to and I get how to fill it out but the thing I’m stuck on is the notarizing. It has to be signed by both the seller/buyer and notarized. Obviously we aren’t near one another; can this document be notarized separately? Should I sign/notarize and then send it to the buyer for them to do the same? Have a mobile notary go to them? Any best practices?

    Like I said, jumped in feet first and now I’m stuck! Any help would be very much appreciated…my auction ends Sunday and I’m trying desperately to get it figured out before then! Thanks in advance for any help!

    Heather

  • Dothan says:

    Hi Seth!

    We are buying a home (FSBO) with cash from a friend, and want to avoid ridiculous closing costs. The seller is in Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the bankruptcy court has lifted the “stay” that had protected the house from foreclosure. We have contacted her bank (mortgage holder) and informed them we want to buy the house, and they have provided us with the payoff number. Does this package tell me everything I need to do to close this deal myself?

    Thanks for your time!

    Dothan

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Dothan – thanks for asking! The package explains all of the standard steps for handling the closing in-house, but it’s geared more towards vacant land investors (and vacant lots are a bit simpler to close on than a standard home). If you’re working with a bank, they might even require that you go through a title company (and honestly, if the purchase price is $10,000 or higher, it should be fairly easy to justify the closing costs).

      • Dothan Hill says:

        Hi Seth! Just an update here… By using your forms package and instructions, we closed on our house August 15th! Total closing costs were… wait for it…. … $239! Of course we’ve known the seller all out lives, so we didn’t need an expensive referee! What a racket! Thanks again for all you do!

      • Dothan says:

        Hi Seth, and thanks for the quick response! I’ve looked at the steps you’ve outlined, and, other than a few required disclosures when selling a house, the steps seem the same to me. I’m just not willing to pay a third party 2300 bucks to close a cash deal on a 54k property. It’s just not right that I can go pay cash for a 54k car, but somebody else’s hands have to be in the pot when I buy a 54k house for cash! Arghh! I’m going to buy title insurance because the owner is in bankruptcy, but I really don’t see anything else that I can’t do by myself. I’m waiting on a couple of quotes from different title companies, but I’ll likely buy your package and go from there. Even if it doesn’t work out for this deal, I’m sure I’ll be able to use the info on future land only deals!
        Thanks for all you do!

  • Kathleen says:

    I sold a house in Illinois with assistance of an attorney four years ago. The attorney instructed the buyer to record the deed during the closing. The buyer has never done so. I still receive the tax bills that I pass on to buyer with requests that he record the deed. I took all documentation of the sale to the county recorder but was informed that only the buyer could record the deed. Any advice?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hmm, I would think that most attorneys would want to control the recording process themselves rather than leaving it up to the buyer (because most buyers have no idea how to do this). Does the deed say that it was drafted by the buyer, or by the attorney? I’ve never heard of a rule where ONLY the buyer could record these things (maybe it works differently in Illinois, I’m not sure), but I know most recorders will only accept the original copies… so if you didn’t have the original copies (with “wet ink”), that could’ve been the issue too.

      It might be worth contacting that attorney and seeing if they can help you work out a solution.

      • Kathleen says:

        Thanks for the quick response. When I took the documents, generated by the attorney, to the county recorder, they did not look at them. The attorney had explained to the buyer at the closing the significance of recording the deed, joking it would prevent me from reselling the property. In hindsight, the attorney was about to leave on a cruise, so he may have rushed through this transaction. I will contact the attorney for his assistance. Thank you again.

  • Brandy Davis says:

    Hello Seth! I’m so excited that I ran across your website/blog! Here’s the deal… We are first time home buyers and we found a 3bed/2ba mobile home for $8500 obo on a huge rented lot ($150 a mo. Paid to lady that owns the land) that 2 brothers and their son/nephew reside in.
    They are contractors looking to sell and move out of state for work. We viewed yesterday. They are renovating most flooring and walls due to sloppy relative that used to rent while they were out of town for work. Being contractors, I’m sure most materials are cheap or free for them to obtain, but they are finishing this before leaving. We are aware that it is a fixer but it’s totally liveable! Mainly cosmetics or personal preference will remain and we’ll own it.
    We offered $8000, $4500 now and $3500 at move in/final of sale in 1 month. We both need this time frame, for us to get remaining amount owed to purchase & its also the end of our current rent house lease. For them, they just need to set their affairs in order to move to Montana. (Were in Oklahoma btw)
    I want to do this correctly, without getting screwed over somehow. Meaning I don’t just want to hand a stranger $4500 and entrust them with it til the month ends and we finalize with remainder and deed.
    Can we follow your list as a buyer and succeed on our own? Do we purchase your program… or get ahold of an attorney/whomever for only the things that require witness /proof? I feel like we as the buyer need to cover ourselves by gathering all necessary paperwork .
    We set up meeting at home this evening to pay “down payment” of $4500 and to throughly go over everything (house and paperwork wise) I am unaware of what the seller has in mind other than getting the money to hold it for us. Granted, we’ve only spoken twice to the man in charge from what I can tell. Once to say we were coming to look at the house (he was working so the brother and nephew showed us around and answered everything we threw at them) and again when we called him with our offer last night. Honestly, with as chaotic as it sounds it all seems legit to us and as you can tell we are through in every detail. Just want to be sure we’re going about the process the right way and not dreaming it up lol

    Our family appreciates not only all the help so far but hopefully the answers or necessary steps to help us achieve this ourselves or with minimal help quickly and correctly.

    Sincerely,

    The Davis Family

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Brandy, thanks for reaching out! Most of the deals I close in-house are vacant land, so there isn’t much work involved with contractors or improvements. If I were you, I would probably bring this kind of deal to a title company or closing attorney, simply because they’ll be able to handle the moving pieces a lot better than you can on your own (and the cost should be reasonably low – low enough to justify the value they’ll be bringing to the table).

      Of course – you can do whatever you want, but if it were me, I would probably get a professional closing agent involved with something like this… simply because it sounds like there are more moving pieces than the deals I typically work on.

  • Krista J White says:

    We have been renting a house for 5 years. Our landlord made us a offer to buy it for $10,000 cash. We no the ins an outs of the house. We no it needs work. Do you think we need a lawyer or do u think we can do this our selfs.

    • Seth Williams says:

      For something like that, I would probably bring it to a title company or closing attorney. If it were me, I would definitely want to get title insurance on a property worth $10,000.

  • Lala says:

    Good morning Seth. Very urgent question. We are going to buy a house. Made offer to seller. The real estate agent sent a bunch of papers for us to sign. Why it’s necessary to sign them,cause it is just an offer. Thank you. LAla.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Lala – I guess that all depends on what the papers say. I’m guessing it’s a standard Purchase Agreement (but that’s purely speculation on my part).

      I’d say your best bet is to just read them through before signing anything, and if you aren’t sure what they mean, ask the real estate agent for some help in understanding what you’re agreeing to.

  • Roger says:

    Thanks for the valuable information posted on this site I really enjoyed reading your content.

    If you have time please take a look at our website / blog covering property investment in Tampa Florida i would love to hear your feedback.

    Thanks for the valuable content on this site as well as any feedback provided.

    All the best,
    Roger

  • Wan says:

    Hi:
    I f I want to buy a house from a foreign country(by cash), could I use electronic signature to speed up the process? How to do it?
    Thank you!

    Wan

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Wan, that’s a good question – but unfortunately it’s outside my area of expertise. If you’re looking for more info on electronic signatures, you might want to check out RightSignature or DocuSign – those are the best to providers I know of.

  • Mary Brady says:

    Seth, you are amazing and brilliant. People at work were talking about you. Now I know why they spoke so highly of your straightforward professional, easy to understand posts. I am excited to look into everything you have to offer. We are all grateful for yoor expertise and the time you take to share and help the novice RE folks out here. YOU rock! Thanks! Just had to say this now. More when I finish!

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Mary – WOW! Thanks so much! That means a lot to me. Where do you work, by the way?

      I appreciate the kind words and I’m so glad to hear this post was helpful to you.

  • Sean says:

    Great article Seth! I have a couple quick questions though. When you conduct your own title searches in house, do you still go and get a title policy on the property? And if you don’t get title insurance, do you still use a warranty deed if you’re search has revealed that everything sems okay?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Sean! When I do my own title search, it’s because I’m NOT planning to get a title insurance policy (mainly because the property is so cheap, and the extra cost is difficult to justify). And yes, I am always sure to get a Warranty Deed from the seller. If I find any apparent problem in the title search, then I’ll usually walk away from the deal unless it’s VERY minor and/or we’re able to resolve the issue as part of my closing.

      Hope that helps!

  • Ann says:

    I’m thinking of building a small on my sons land that is free and clear.
    What needs to be done once you get the Certificate of Occupancy. Is there closing procedures?
    What would I need to do?

    • Ann says:

      I meant to mention I was paying cash for the build.

      • Seth Williams says:

        Hi Ann – I think this largely depends on whatever municipality you’re building in. For the most part, they all have similar rules but the intricacies can vary from place to place.

        I’m also not the foremost expert in the building process (because most of my vacant lots don’t involve any structures on them), so honestly – I’m probably not the right person to be asking about this. Sorry!

  • Luanne says:

    My husband and I bought our home from my sister. We signed the sales contract in May of 2014 and paid her. We didn’t record it until September of 2014. Which date do we use as far as capitol gains? We would like to sell but are not sure which date applies? Do we have to wait until September of 2016 or can we sell it in May 2016? Can you help us?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Luanne, good question! I’m not a tax pro (so I’m honestly not sure without talking to a legit accountant or CPA), but my gut is telling me you’d probably use the actual date that you signed the closing documents and made the payments (not the recording date)… but again, that’s purely my non-professional opinion. 🙂

      • Luanne says:

        Wow didn’t expect an answer so quick. Thanks, closing and doc. signing is my guess also but will contact an accountant to be sure. Thanks again. Great articles, enjoyed then.

  • nicolai says:

    Hi Seth,

    nice write up. Just in case your readers want to know, how to draft corporation resolutions, I collected a few on the website mentioned above.

    Nicolai

  • Jason says:

    Hey Seth,

    At the bottom it said “sign-up below to get a $50 coupon code via email” Where do I “sign-up below” I want that coupon so I can buy your closing package for $47… 🙂

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Jason, there should be a pop-up opt-in box right above the comments section of this blog post. You can also sign up in the sidebar near the top of the page (where you see the “INVESTOR HACKS” book). Let me know if you can’t find it and I’ll make sure we get you that discount code.

  • John says:

    Hi Seth,
    I’d like to buy this ‘Cash Closing Package’ but I purchased ‘Offer Letters & Contract’ for $19 with subscriber discount yesterday. Is ‘Purchase Contract’ the same one that I purchased already?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi John, yes – ‘Purchase Contract’ will be almost the exact same document you purchased yesterday (however, it’s only one of several other documents you’ll get – along with a boatload of video tutorials to show you how it’s done).

      Seth

  • Ben says:

    Hi Seth,
    Are these closing documents relevant to both houses and raw land? I’m only going to be buying and selling raw land at this stage, but may go into houses later on down the track.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Ben, you could use these for houses as well (I have in the past). The only caveat is that most houses have a lot more variables to consider (inspections, mortgages, utilities, etc.) – so it’s not a bad idea to at least consult with a title company or closing attorney and ask if they know of any other items you’d be required to have completed in your state.

  • Lisa iqbal says:

    I bought the closing docs for a cash to cash deal but do not see hoe to access them. I need them!

    Thanks

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Lisa – thanks for the heads up. You should have received a link to download a zip file when you made the purchase (also, I just emailed them to you as well). If you still can’t access them, let me know and I’ll be sure to get them to you.

  • Eve says:

    I bought the mini course, it’s so very well written and organized. Take lots of guess out of the game and saved me lots of time. Well worth the money spent. Seth is awesome in answering questions.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for the positive review Eve, I really appreciate it! I’m glad you’ve found this kind of information to be helpful.

      If you have any suggestions for improvement, definitely let me know!

  • Harry A says:

    Awesome. I had just called my real estate agent to ask about documentation needed for closing a small deal in-house. Literally 5 minutes later I thought…I wonder what articles there are on REtipster… As usual, great content Seth.

  • Kerry says:

    Hey Seth,

    Scratch that last comment. I see where you tackle it in another post. My fault!

    Kerry

  • Kerry says:

    Seth,

    Do you ever sell your land using a contract for deed? If so, what insights would you provide in that regard? Thanks!

    Kerry

  • Seth Williams says:

    Thanks Julio – glad you found it helpful.

  • Julio says:

    Your post, How To Close Your Next Real Estate Deal In-House. | REtipster.com, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards from Julio!

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