We know we’re a little bit biased, but we love real estate closings (it’s why we do what we do). Many agents don’t take full advantage of what a good closing attorney can do for them. We can identify issue before they become problems. We can help resolve problems if any do arise. We can help the client appreciate having you involved and in control of their transaction. Here are some ways to make sure you (and your client) are getting everything you can from a good closing attorney:
ISSUE SPOTTING: Ask a trusted closing attorney questions as you are putting a deal together. If the closing attorney knows the property is in an estate or corporation, they can help ensure that the proper interests are dealt with, and let you know who needs to be involved. This may simply mean preparing additional documents, such as powers of attorney, corporate resolutions, or deeds. It may also involve more extensive advice, such as how (and whether) the client needs to file for probate. If the “fix” for an issue is likely to involve extensive time or effort, it’s better to resolve these matters before moving forward with the closing. Pulling the plug at the last minute because of a predictable issue, such as incomplete probate, is extremely frustrating to everyone involved, and can sour a deal in a hurry. If, though, everyone is in the loop and knows what has to be done before a deal can close, then a delay can be easier to swallow; it’s all about setting expectations appropriately (which the attorney can also help with).
YOU SHOW CASE THE PROPERTY/DEAL, THE ATTORNEY CAN HELP SHOWCASE YOU: If, because of your attentiveness and diligence, the closing attorney is able to address issues early, and keep things running smoothly, they can stay largely in the background. This keeps you front and center with your client, and helps them understand that you are helping guide/coach their deal, and have coordinated with the lawyer to protect them and the deal.
DELIVERING BAD NEWS: It happens; Occasionally there is significant, time consuming, and expensive work that needs to be done before a deal can go through. Coordinate with the closing attorney to arrange a sit-down (or phone conference) with your client, where the attorney can give a clear explanation of what is going on. During this conversation, strategize with your client on how (and whether) to proceed, and then coordinate with the other party on how to move forward.
ADVANCE NOTICE KEEPS EVERYONE HAPPY: If your customer will have to come in and sign at a different time, or if they can’t come to a particular location, please let the attorney know as soon as possible. The attorney is trying to coordinate a schedule that works with everyone. If they know a week ahead of time that there is a conflict, then they can work around it, keep it seamless, and make you look like a rockstar. If they find out the morning of closing that the seller isn’t coming until next week, and there is no contract extension in place, and the requested closing times aren’t available, everyone starts to look clumsy and unprepared.
USE THEM AS AN INFORMATION DUMP: The closing attorney is the last stop in the transaction. All documents and information must get there eventually. That being the case, don’t hang onto anything. If a client brings you an estate document, power of attorney, etc…, simply pass it along to the closing attorney (or have your client send it to the attorney directly); That way it’s out of your hands, and if anything is missing, it’s on the attorney, not you.
CONTROL THE CONVERSATION: If a lender or title insurer is seeking documents from the attorney, make sure that the client is hearing from you consistently. If timelines are running, and the attorney can’t get in touch with your client through you, then they have no choice but to reach out to your customer directly. Position yourself as a good “general contractor” for your client. Surprise is always nerve-wracking for a seller or purchaser, even on small issues. Keeping your “hand on the wheel” helps them fee comfortable and confident.
Let us know if we can be of any help in your next closing!