Home-Related Documents You Need To Save

Performance Property Real Estate Question

Q: Gerald, we just closed on our first home.  We got a ton of paperwork throughout the process, especially at the end when we finally got the keys.  Which of the documents should we keep? Harriet, Belleville, NJ

A: I’m going to give you a half dozen home-related documents you definitely should keep in a safe place:

  1. Hud-1 settlement statement

  2. title policy

  3. Deed

  4. Survey

  5. Mortgage or deed of trust (if you have one)

  6. Promissory note (if you have a mortgage or deed of trust)

The HUD-1 Settlement Statement is a document that lists all charges and credits to the buyer and to the seller in a real estate transaction–you definitely should keep the Hud-1 from the purchase of your home especially for tax purposes.  

Your title insurance policy is perhaps the most important home-related document you have because it insures your ownership interest in your property from among other things an unknown heir of a previous owner who may later try to claim they own your property!

Your deed is your proof of ownership–it is the document used to transfer title.  When you sell your home, the deed will be transferred to the new owner.

Your home’s survey confirms your property’s boundary lines.   You should get a survey before you buy a home, but you can get your property surveyed any time after you buy.

If you borrowed money to buy your home, you should have a mortgage or deed of trust (some states use mortgages, some use deeds of trust and some states use both.  Whether you have a deed of trust or a mortgage, they both serve to assure that your mortgage loan is repaid, either to a lender or an individual person. A mortgage only involves two parties: 1) the borrower and 2) the lender.   A deed of trust adds an additional party, called a trustee, who holds the home’s title until the loan is repaid similar to a car loan.

If you borrowed money to buy your home, you signed a promissory note that contains the promise to repay the amount borrowed to buy your home.

Thanks for your question, Harriet. 

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