When a property's sale or purchase is completed
Depending on where you live, settlement can either be in escrow, or a sit-down meeting between the buyer and seller. The rules for settlement vary from state to state, as well as from county to county, but typically here's what takes place: (1) the buyer pays for the home and closing costs in one lump-sum (2) the buyer and seller sign the closing documents (3) the deed is recorded and (4) the mortgage officially begins. If settlement is a meeting, the buyer and seller are often joined by mortgage brokers, attorneys, a lender representative or title officer. Settlement is also called closing.
See: Escrow, Closing costs