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The Washington Process

Step One
When a buyer and seller have in their hands a ratified (signed by both buyer and seller) sales contract, one of the parties should send it to us by email ( or facsimile to (301) 670-3447  or EFAX 202-351-05560 for review. Upon our receipt we will order a title report, survey (if a single-family house), certificate of property insurance, payoff letter for the sellers' loan (if any), and all other information and documents needed for our underwriter to be able to insure the buyers' new title to the property. This process takes roughly one week to complete, and the information gathered is often incomplete or inconsistent, requiring further inquiries and conversations with our staff. Please be patient; the District's land records and other data are often out of date, further underscoring the need for owners' title insurance to protect buyers in this jurisdiction. At the same time, buyers will also normally make application for a purchase-money mortgage and will be asked by their lender to pay to their lender the up-front costs for an appraisal of the property ($400 estimate) and a credit report on each buyer ($50 estimate).

Step Two
Once the Sellers' title is reviewed and found to be insurable by my underwriter, the survey approved by us, and the buyers' loan approved, we will be in touch with the buyers (or their real estate agents) to arrange a convenient time for the closing. Often the sales contract will specify an exact time and date if the words "time is of the essence" are contained in your contract; if time is not of the essence, a reasonable time is implied by DC law. Closing's are ideally held in our conference room where last minute details can be most easily accommodated, although we can close your deal at any location on which the parties agree.

Step Three
On the morning of the day chosen for closing, the buyers customarily do a "walk-through" inspection of the property, noting any unfulfilled contract items (e.g. the chandelier was to convey, but is missing). Buyers then review our draft of the "HUD-1" settlement statement and obtain a certified check from their bank or credit union payable to "Diamond Title Corp" for the exact amount needed to close the deal. If the check exceeds what is due at the table, we cut a check back to the buyers, or conversely take their personal check for any minor additions. At the table we collect the buyers' money, prepare, have signed, and transfer the deed and related affidavits from the seller to the buyer, pay all brokerage commissions, taxes, liens, recording fees (the District has a whopping 3% deed transfer/recordation tax customarily split between the parties) and other charges, and the next day record the buyers' new deed. We also adjust to the day of closing the real estate taxes, condominium assessments, rents and security deposits (if any) between the parties. We then release the balance of the sellers' proceeds to them, and issue the owners' and lenders' title insurance policies. Simple!