NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Buying a home takes a blizzard of paper, much of it coming in a rush just before the property changes hands at the closing. How do you make sense of it all?
It can be hard. Lots of documents are in legalese and many are very long. Typically, a big package of papers lands in the buyer's mailbox just a day before the closing. It's a safe bet most buyers don't read everything, or don't understand big chunks if they do. That's why buyers unfamiliar with the process are often advised to hire a real estate lawyer.
In fact, a lot of the papers are filled with boilerplate verbiage that really doesn't matter very much because it's the same for everyone. To separate the wheat from this chaff, Jack M. Guttentag, emeritus professor of finance at The Wharton School, offers a breakdown on his website, The Mortgage Professor.
"About half of the documents borrowers receive can be signed quickly and pushed aside because they do not require the borrower's attention," Guttentag says. "Most are merely acknowledgements that a disclosure that the law requires lenders to provide has in fact been provided."
So which documents really demand close study?
"The challenging part of the closing process is perusing the transactional documents that indicate whether or not you are getting the deal you believe you negotiated or were promised," he says. "This is the most challenging part of the process because the stakes are high, and the time pressures severe."