Disclaimer alert: Every state handles the closing process of a residential real estate transaction differently depending on state regulations. For example, agents and lenders attend the closing at their discretion in Arizona. In some states, agents and lenders always attend. The following rant may or may not apply to your state and your experience at the closing table. I do believe, however, that the basic principles of the post apply to all real estate professionals and how we communicate.
Back in the day, I managed a title and escrow branch for Chicago Title in Phoenix. I handled roughly 7,000 closings (the actual signing of the loan and escrow documents) in my decade-plus in escrow.
The vast majority of these appointments proceed without a hitch, and when the agent or lender (or, in very rare cases, both) attended the closing, I liked to commend them for their attendance. To me, it showed dedication, concern and care for their clients. However, there are a few types of agents and lenders I would have preferred had a conflicting appointment, forcing them to miss the closing. Cue the rant …
(You’ll find both men and women who apply to each of the types described, despite my arbitrary gender assignments.)
1. Sally Cellphone. Sally is obviously a very busy agent because she is constantly on her cellphone. Unfortunately, she also takes calls during a signing without leaving the room. Really, Sally? That call can’t wait for the 20 minutes or so you are at the signing for your client? If it is truly necessary to take the call, please step into the lobby.
2. Ned Know-It-All. Ned has to demonstrate his super-human knowledge of all things at all times. For example, even after I’ve explained the prepaid interest to the buyers, he has to rattle off his take on line 1,001 of the HUD-1 settlement statement. He continues his explanations for every line of the HUD-1 and every page of the entire loan package as well. I understand that some escrow officers or closers do not fully explain (or in some cases do not fully understand) the documents. In that case, it may be necessary to “assist” in the signing. But, Ned, please assess the skill level of the signer and adjust your input accordingly.
3. Chatty Cathy. Cathy is super-nice and super-friendly and loves to talk to her clients — especially during the entire loan closing. For some buyers, especially first-timers, they have a lot to digest in a closing. It’s hard enough, but then add in an agent who won’t stop talking about kids, pets, neighbors, friends, Stonehenge, “The Hunger Games” … you name it, she’s talking about it. Please give the signer and your clients a bit of peace and quiet.
4. Sammy Show-Me-The-Money. This one will be hard to believe, but I have had agents and lenders attend closings who are most concerned with how quickly we can get their commission check ready and delivered to their office. They have this conversation with me in front of their clients. Yikes! I’m not saying the question is inappropriate, but the timing sure is!
5. Peter Promise-The-World. Pete will tell his clients that we can fund and record this loan right away because it’s “table funded.” Not in Arizona, Pete. Some states receive documents and funds simultaneously, but that is rarely the case in Arizona. Also, to get a transaction recorded, we need to get the recording package couriered to our recording desk and conduct a final review of the file. This is not “right away,” Pete! We will always lay out the expected funding and recording timeline for your clients. Please help us set reasonable expectations.
As I stated before, some of the described customs above will not apply to your state. The types of agents depicted, while rare, are found in every state. If you are an agent or lender and you’ve read this far, I’m pretty sure you don’t fit any of these categories. Thank you for attending your signings, supporting your clients and allowing your closer to do the job.
Bill Risser is vice president of new media and education for Chicago Title Agency in Phoenix. He assists real estate professionals by teaching them how to use social and technology tools effectively and efficiently.