Congratulations, you’re on the home stretch! Now you are ready for the final steps in the home buying process, which is aptly referred to as closing / settlement. (Different states refer to it in different ways, which is why I’ve used both terms in this article.) This is the part of the process where all of the paperwork is signed off and ratified, and where all fees and commissions are paid.

1. You can prepare for this process by staying in close touch with your escrow officer and real estate agent, and by continuing to save money. I touched on the money side of things in step #1 above, and there’s a reason I put it first on the list. You’ll have to bring a cashier’s check with you to pay for closing costs, so be sure you’re saving your cash leading up to this point.

2. A day or two before the closing date, you should receive what’s referred to as a “HUD-1″ settlement statement. This document will outline the exact closing costs you’ll have to pay. You can get a cashier’s check in this amount and bring it to the closing with you.

3. During the closing / settlement proceedings, you’ll be asked to sign a lot of paperwork. Don’t sign things blindly. Take the time to read these documents, especially the bottom-line figures you are paying, the interest rate, and other financial items. You can even arrive early to review these documents, if the escrow company allows it. I strongly encourage you to do this.

4. After all the paperwork has been signed, and all monies have been properly distributed, you’ll receive the keys to your new place. Congratulations! You are now a homeowner.