After several stressful months of buying or selling your home, it may be tempting to put the transaction in the past and dispose of the evidence—which is often more than 100 pages. However, there are several important legal and financial documents associated with the sale that you are best advised to keep after your closing. You will need some of them for filing taxes, and others you may need to file a claim against the seller, a real estate agent or a mortgage lender. Here are some of the things that you should hang onto from your closing:
- The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) Statement. This form itemizes all the costs associated with the closing. You’ll need it for filing income tax, and if you sell the home. It is also sometimes called a HUD-1 statement. A lender has 45 days from the closing date to get the RESPA statement to the borrower.
- The Truth-in-Lending Statement. This exists to protect consumers when they borrow from a lender. It summarizes the terms and costs of your mortgage loan.
- The mortgage & note. These two forms spell out the legal terms of your mortgage obligation, and the agreed-upon repay terms. Mortgage notes are a type of promissory note and act as a lien against the property. If there is ever an emergency and you need some fast cash, private mortgage notes can easily be sold to note purchasing companies.
- The deed. This is the document that formally transfers ownership of the property to you. Proof of ownership comes in handy when you are ready to sell, and for resolving disputes with neighbors about things such as property boundaries.
- Affidavits. Sellers will often sign an affidavit of title that points out any potential legal issues involving the property like liens or easements. This document is usually required by title companies issuing title insurance and could end up in court if any issues come up with the seller or neighbors.
- Riders. These are any amendments to the sales contract that affect your rights. For example, if you buy a condo, you may have a rider outline the condo association’s rules and restrictions.
- Insurance policies. These provide a record and proof of your coverage. You can legally own a home without homeowners insurance, but most lenders will require you to have it. An insurance policy can help you cover unforeseen damage such as fires or flooding — events which unfortunately can and do happen.
Where do I get all these documents?
Your real estate agent should be able to give you copies of most of your closing documents, but some will come from a closing agent, lawyer or escrow officer. Since the deed and mortgage documents are public record, copies should always be available from the recorder’s office or from a title company. Since a legal dispute is the main reason for keeping most of these documents safe, we hope you never have to use them — but it’s better to be safe than sorry.