Stories From The Street – July 2015

Staying Local Benefits All Involved…

Imagine that a last minute settlement gets changed from 11am to 5pm on a Friday because the lender needs to get a final document from the purchaser, as underwriting noticed an oversight in the loan application. The lender notifies all parties and tries to reschedule the time with the settlement company, but because the settlement company is an hour away and is ‘already booked,’ they can’t accommodate the change.

Sellers have moved out of their house and are scheduled to fly to their new locale in Hawaii on Sunday. Purchasers have a moving company lined up to unload in their new home Saturday. But the settlement company is “too busy” to accommodate. This glitch could cost thousands if not TENS of thousands of dollars in changing the moving date, change in airfare, additional hotel expenses, not to mention the emotional head-ache and heartburn.

Everyone involved: buyer, seller, lender, both agents, moving company all are trying to accommodate the change because everyone realizes the amount of stress that goes into selling and purchasing a home.

The amount of stress is right up there with death and divorce, so to throw a monkey wrench in the last minute puts everyone stress levels through the ROOF.

When we call the settlement company to change the time the answer should be, “No worries, we understand the magnitude of the situation and will do what we can to accommodate. We might have to move some things around, and you might have to wait a little bit, but don’t fret, we will get you settled today.” What you don’t want to hear,is the answer we heard, “Oh, I’m sorry, we are already booked this afternoon, and our settlement agent is going out of town after her last settlement. We are going to have to do this Monday.” Huh? What? You can’t accommodate this? Unfortunately in real estate, no two transactions are the same, and there are always hurdles to overcome. I’ve written about many in this space, and we typically find a way to resolve the issue. That is why there needs to be a team involved that understands that there are actual LIVES involved with emotions and plans and that these are not just FILES on a desk.

This exact scenario happened last month.

Last minute schedule change for settlement time as the lender was working through a final condition with underwriting. We had to change settlement from 11am on Friday to 5p. Having found out about this change on Thursday afternoon, everyone’s stress level was through the roof, but the lender gave me his word that he would do his part, and he’d be ready for Friday afternoon. I explained that my clients, the sellers, were leaving and relocating to Hawaii on Sunday, so the sale HAD to happen. He understood the severity and went above and beyond, staying in the office til 9p Thursday making sure the necessary paperwork was received.

The purchasers (in Maryland the Purchaser has the right to select the settlement company of their choosing) chose a settlement company from Olney Maryland, a large corporate owned settlement company. These larger companies, don’t have owners on site working the files daily. If it doesn’t fit neatly into their small little box, in their timeframe, then they don’t accommodate the clients. Plus they are not located close to the property where the buyers have to do a final walkthrough and the sellers are located. So, even if things were ‘smooth’ the parties have to spend 2+ hours traveling to and from the settlement company.

This could have been avoided by going local, going small.

So late Thursday afternoon when I find out that the settlement time has to be moved, but the large corporate company won’t accommodate everyone and work to get the house sold on Friday, I call Katrina at Lawyers Signature Settlements and tell her the situation. Katrina is the owner and can make decisions, unlike these large corporate companies where you are just talking to employees.

Katrina’s response, “What can I do to help?” I ask her if she can do a ‘courtesy’ settlement to make sure my clients can sell and leave for Hawaii and the purchasers who have movers scheduled for Saturday can move into their home. Katrina, says that, as long as the other company is ok with Signature actually conducting the settlement, that she’d adjust her schedule and have her staff available to help. See, when a local company, with local ownership is involved, I’ve found that customer service and client satisfaction takes precedence over the bottom line.

The other company was fine with Signature handling settlement. They got paid just like they would have if they did the settlement. All the paperwork was in their name, and all their fees were paid, but they didn’t have the ‘inconvenience’ of moving schedules around to accommodate a settlement and having a settlement agent spend 2+ hours on the file and closing. What did Katrina get? Well, last I heard she didn’t get a dime. The other company didn’t even call or email her, thanking her for bailing them out of a tight situation. BUT what Katrina and Signature got was happy sellers, ecstatic purchasers, 2 raving agents, and a lender that understood Signature saved the day. I guarantee this act of kindness did not go unnoticed by the parties involved and will benefit Katrina/Signature in the long run.

I tell you this, because in the real estate world, when buying and selling homes there are so many moving parts and so many obstacles to overcome to get you to settlement that it is imperative to have everyone moving in the same direction and for the same goal. Can you get in touch with a decision maker at the real estate company, the Broker/Owner? Can you get a hold of your lender, and does he/she have a local underwriting department? Is the owner of the settlement company involved in the day to day operations of their business?

I’ve been licensed since 2002, and in my 13 years, I’ve seen time and time again that these companies, the ones with local ownership, are the ones that bend over backwards for their clients and make sure that an already stressful experience doesn’t become more stressful.

Think about this next time you are considering selling or buying.

Have a great month! Stay cool, Stay safe…

Hit me up at if you want me to write about a question you might have.