California is different ¬Ė even when it comes to selling a home

Buying a home in California is ddifferent than buying a home in many other states in our great nation. 

According to buyers relocating from the mid-west, where basements are normal and customary, not having a basement often comes as a complete shock. 

Many folks are moving from houses where there’s a whole third story down below. It doesn’t usually count in the total square footage of the dwelling, but provides for additional storage, additional living space, and room for your winter-time toys like pool and ping pong tables. 

As for the process of actually buying a home in California, we use escrow companies to see the contract through to closing, while some other states use lawyers for each transaction -- one attorney representing the sellers and another one representing the buyers. 

The California Association of Realtors has a fleet of sharp-minded attorneys who generate the boilerplate forms that their members implement on behalf of their clients to buy and sell homes. These forms are pre- tested and updated regularly. 

I’m not knocking any real estate attorneys who may guide buyers and sellers to make legal and ethical home sales in their great state. But I feel fully supported by CAR’s collective learning based on previous lawsuits. 

So buyers from out of state can rest assured that they’re being well served.

In California, there is no closing table or closing meeting. I’ve had out-of-state buyers ask, “When is the closing meeting?”  

It’s often a relief when they learn they don’t have to take time off from work to sit down with the sellers, their agent, and their lawyer to exchange checks and keys. 

The closing happens automatically and electronically once all the buyers’ funds have been received. Once all the money has been received, the title representative sets up the transfer of the deed with the county recorder’s office, and escrow is notified once the recording is confirmed. 

At that point, ownership has officially transferred.

Another difference I’ve heard of is that in some states, the sellers move out prior to attending the closing meeting. 

Usually, in California, the sellers stay put for two or three days after the sale is recorded. That’s when the moving truck shows up and the sellers physically move out. And the buyers usually give these days to the seller for free. 

There’s even a form the CAR lawyers invented to cover the short time the buyers are now landlords to the former homeowners to protect everyone should something unfortunate happen during those short two to three days. 

Welcome to California. We have a form for almost everything.

I'm Leslie Eskildsen, Realtor, and Contributing Columnist to the Orange County Register Sunday Real Estate Section 


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