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Simple habits for smoother closings

May 27, 2021 Realtor Resources Share:

Everyone wants a smooth closing experience, but an easy, drama-free closing takes work.

But by being proactive about potential title issues, setting expectations with your clients, and keeping open lines of communication, you can set yourself up for smooth closings, even with the most complicated title situations.

Be proactive with potential red flags

When you first list a house, pay attention to potential red flags that may cause title issues with the property. Some of these situations include the death of a spouse, a divorce, a tax deed property, and a home that is in estate. Homeowners may not be up-front or even know to alert you of these scenarios, so listen carefully and ask questions when you first take a listing.

If the property you’re listing is in one of these categories, you don’t have to wait until the home goes under a preliminary contract to order your title report. You can order this when you first list the property. By ordering this title report in advance, you can identify potential title issues early, before there’s a firm closing deadline.

When you do get your preliminary title report on a property, call or email your representative right away. We can answer any questions or concerns you may have, and we can go ahead and address any issues that you see with the report. Don’t wait to get your questions answered!

For example, whenever there’s a divorce, there are often complicated title issues. If the divorce is not yet final and both spouses are listed on the deed of the house, both spouses will need to sign the listing agreement and contract and will need to come to the closing.

In the case of a divorce that has been finalized, the deed may still say joint tenants with the right of survivorship, even though the divorce decree gave the home to one spouse. In this scenario, we would need to find a quitclaim deed to ascertain ownership. If this deed does not exist, a divorce decree is required to know exactly how to transfer ownership of the property. All of these extra steps take time and can delay your closing if you’re not identifying these issues early.

The existing owner’s title insurance policy can also help easily clear up any title issues. When you take a new listing, go ahead and get a copy of the owner’s title insurance policy. Scan or email a copy of every single page of the owner’s policy (including the jacket) when you order your preliminary title report. This enables our researchers to work faster, saving you both time and money with a reissue credit.

Set expectations

Closings are smoother when everyone involved knows what to expect, especially when it comes to money. You can estimate closing costs for your clients using our Title Capture app. Once you set up your portal, you can create a seller’s net sheet, a buyer’s net sheet, or a title quote only to show exactly what the buyers and sellers are responsible for at closing. This eliminates confusion for all parties, and it also helps give your clients a base estimate for their financial responsibilities.

To avoid unnecessary delays or confusion in closing, it’s also important to clarify agent roles. Determine immediately who will order the termite letter and bond and who will order the home warranty, and don’t wait to get that process started.

Finally, help your homeowner remember to order the payoff. This needs to be ordered by the seller no more than two weeks before the closing date, and it’s much easier if the homeowner does this themselves. Due to privacy restrictions, the lender will not release the loan information to an outside party. If your closing company requests it, it can take two weeks or more. But when the seller requests the payoff, they can get the information immediately.

When your client is in the middle of selling their home, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. Do whatever it takes to help your client remember to call their lender and get their exact payoff amount. We can’t use the payoff amount in their latest mortgage statement. When the seller calls the mortgage company, they should ask them to email the payoff information to the closing coordinator assigned to the closing.

Keep lines of communication open

Communication is key to a smooth closing experience. As soon as you get your contract finalized, you should email your rep and closing agent with the following information:

  • Signed contract, including addendums
  • Your closing attorney, phone number, and email address
  • Lender or loan officer and the loan officer's processor
  • Closing date
  • Closing location
  • Closing time and day preference
  • Buyer's agent, phone number, and email address
  • Listing agent, phone number, and email address

This not only allows your closing company to get started with the title search and get the closing on our calendar, but it also provides valuable contact information so that there are no delays or gaps in communication.

Some agents will wait to order their title until after the home inspection, but this is never a good idea. The entire closing process will flow easier if you reach out early on. This will especially impact the loan. The lender needs the title fees immediately for Good Faith Estimates, and they also need the title as soon as possible so they can process the loan. Any delay in ordering the title has the potential to delay everything else - including loan approval and closing.

Details matter in closings. If you’re not careful, an overlooked detail can cause significant problems and delay your closing. But you can ensure smoother closings for you and your clients by paying attention, being proactive, and keeping open lines of communication with all relevant parties.

At South Oak, we understand the details. That’s why we partner with real estate agents as an ally throughout the entire closing process. We have the knowledge and experience it takes to ensure that you have an outstanding closing experience from start to finish. For more information about how South Oak can partner with you for a better closing, contact us.