Cristal's Blog


August 31, 2023

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So, you or your representatives have hired an agent with years of experience, made the necessary repairs, decluttered and cleaned every surface, put away any personal items, created curb appeal, and even staged your home for sale. Now comes the best part. You've accepted an offer and are ready to close. And while it might seem like it's time to celebrate, wait to break out the champagne until every task on this home sellers guide closing checklist has been completed.

Note: The images featured throughout this blog post are some of my current listings.

A drone view of an Ojai estate's large Mediterranean-style home, 2 pools, and grounds

Closing Checklist

No matter how many times one has gone through the process, closing on a home sale can be more involved than one might expect. This final stage signifies the legal transfer of your property's title, encompassing final negotiations, tying up loose ends, and carrying out the financial transaction. Remember that there are steps to navigate before reaching the closing table. This comprehensive checklist outlines the precise actions you or your representatives need to take before, during, and after the closing process.

To solidify an offer, a purchase contract must be executed. This legal agreement outlines the terms, including the buyer's inspection window, the down payment amount, and the closing date. Once both parties sign the contract, efforts to meet the agreed-upon deadline are initiated.

The rear of a large, 2-story Mediterranean-style Montecito home with a red tiled roof and swimming pool surrounded by lush landscaping

Home Inspection

Usually, the initial step involves a home inspection arranged by the buyer. If the buyer requests repairs based on their inspection results, collaborate with your real estate agent to negotiate these matters. Depending on the situation, you might agree to the repairs promptly, accept a portion of the requests, or decline repairs altogether. Consult your agent to determine what's equitable and optimal for your circumstances.

The meticulously manicured entry courtyard of a luxury home, with a border of privet hedges and Italian cypress trees. The home's facade has white walls and an arched front door, and is illuminated from within.


For buyers utilizing financing, the subsequent step involves a home appraisal. This yields an appraisal report providing an impartial assessment of the property's value. Suppose the appraisal falls short of the contract value. In that case, various options arise: the buyer can contribute additional funds to bridge the gap, you can lower the price to align with the appraisal, or both parties can find a middle ground. If a home appraisal contingency is part of the contract, the sale might collapse if an agreement can't be reached.

Once these hurdles are completed, it's time to prepare for closing day:

  • When thoroughly cleaning the home one last time, pay attention to drawers and closets for overlooked items.
  • Collect documents related to appliances and other items (e.g., warranties, manuals, receipts for appliances, roofing, HVAC, plumbing, or other property-related work).
  • Turn off the main water valve for the property.

An intimate sitting room of a luxury home, with fire in the fireplace and glass doors to a terrace.

Documents and Items for Sellers at Closing

It's time to finalize the deal. As the closing meeting is anticipated, please review this list of items and ensure their readiness.

  • Photo identification for all sellers listed on the home contract (two forms of ID are preferable), Keys and security codes for the home, plus remotes for appliances (e.g., garage door, HVAC, motorized window blinds).
  • Final utility bills for settlement Cashier's check to cover closing costs if you haven't already wired the funds. Personal checkbook in case unforeseen expenses arise. Proof of repairs completed as per the home inspection.
  • Before closing day, confirm with your agent that this list covers all necessary items. Variations can exist based on state regulations and individual sales.
  • Other essential documents, such as the closing statement, seller disclosures, deed, and purchase contract, will be managed by your real estate agent, escrow agent, or attorney.

Closing Meeting

During the closing meeting, you and your agent will join the buyer and their agent to sign the paperwork and settle closing costs.

Large white living room of a luxury Montecito home, with a vaulted ceiling and wall of glass overlooking the ocean and blue sky.

Seller's Expenses at Closing

In addition to any remaining mortgage balance, sellers should allocate about 5-10% of the home sale price for closing costs. These encompass:

  • Taxes,
  • insurance,
  • utilities Escrow,
  • title,
  • attorney fees,
  • Warranty payments,
  • if necessary, HOA dues, if applicable

The listed expenses are common but may not cover everything. Additional paperwork or fees might be involved depending on your home sale specifics. Fortunately, a reputable agent like me will guide you in understanding the all the requirements.

Final To-Do List

With the closing completed, it's time to wrap things up. You should have received a packet of closing-related paperwork to organize, along with a check for any sale proceeds (if applicable). What comes next? Review this checklist of final tasks before bidding farewell to your former property.

  • Update your address with the post office and inform businesses, utilities, and individuals of your move.
  • Cancel your homeowner's insurance policy after the title transfer, which might lead to a refund if prepaid.
  • Cancel utilities.

Is an Attorney Needed?

California is one of the states that does not require that each party in a real estate transaction retain a lawyer at the closing. However, if you want to engage your attorney at closing, that is fine.

I hope this home sellers’ guide has been helpful. By the way, one more reminder: Check out my comprehensive website for information on exceptional properties currently on the market in Montecito and the surrounding communities. If you see something of interest, give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at I’ll happily add your home to my portfolio of fine properties for sale and certainly help you find a new home sweet home at the same time. And when you or your representatives work with me, I’m available to help with every step along the way, including the real estate closing process.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch