For many home buyers, first-timers especially, closing can be the most tedious and harrowing part of the process. Tedious because it often puts buyers in the cross hairs of both the legal system and the real estate paperwork tangle that's required to complete the purchase. The harrowing part is a separate issue entirely. Many of the deadlines associated with closing real estate seem ridiculously arbitrary, and missing one or forgetting a crucial piece of paperwork can delay or hinder the purchase in ways that seem impossible to anticipate. But it doesn't have to be that way. What follows is a set of broad guidelines about what to expect during and before a home closing, including an outline of the process, some information about the timeline and some of the requirements for different parts of the purchase. It's important to note that the nomenclature and procedures described here can vary slightly from state to state, so you need to know which minor variations matter most.