The answer is different in every state --- sometimes it’s even different within the same state.
When we lived in Florida, the day we signed our documents at a lawyer’s office is the same day we got the keys to the house.
But when we moved to northern California, it’s a different story.
- Loan documents to title company. Loan underwriter sends the paperwork to the escrow officer who will need at least 24 hours to review the documents, confirm the terms of the sale, prepare the paperwork for signing and then schedule the appropriate parties to sign.
- Document signing. Typically, when buyers sign their loan documents and other paperwork, there will or should be an allowance of at least 24 hours from the time of signing for the loan underwriter to give final approval and fund the loan.
- Loan funding. Title company waits for confirmation that the loan is funded, usually 24 hours from loan document signing.
- Recording. Upon receipt of confirmation and if done early enough, the title company may have enough time or could request special accommodation to get the sale recorded by noon, or no later than 3 pm that same day. Otherwise, it could be another 24 hours after funding before it is recorded.
- Keys. Only upon confirmation of recording will a realtor give the keys to the buyer who is then officially the new owner.
What are the reasons for possible delays in funding/recording?
- When/where signing occurs. Since buyers and sellers don’t always sign during business hours, and if they require a notary public to assist them with the document signing, that could delay the process another day.
- New lender conditions. At the very last minute, the underwriter may have certain conditions that must be satisfied, or he may have discovered new information that affects the loan. For example:
- The buyer’s credit score takes a hit if buyer engages in purchases of large ticket items like new furniture. As such, ability to qualify for the loan may change.
- The buyer’s employer has not confirmed employement --- is the buyer still employed?
- Recording schedule. And depending on the county, they may have certain hours/days when they do not handle recordings
Why can’t I get the keys sooner?
Buyer does not own the property until the sale is recorded.
Buyer can not and should not attempt to make any changes to the property until it’s his.
If Buyer attempts to make some changes to the property and damage or injury occurs at the premises, it is a huge liability.