Do You Have 2020 Vision for Your Closing?

 

On behalf of the entire Berlin Patten Ebling family, we want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Its times like this where it can be helpful to reflect on the prior year, and since this year is 2020 (presumably the year of “perfect vision”), let’s take a step back and reflect on those instances where the parties’ vision may have been less than perfect!

 

Over the course of 2019, you can imagine that we have seen it all. As we head into 2020, let’s recap some of the more common (and avoidable) mistakes we saw in 2019 (in no particular order).
  1. Selecting a closing date that was inconvenient and/or impossible for one of the parties to accommodate. Yes we have had several instances in which an escrow dispute ensued because one or more of the parties assumed the closing date was a mere guideline. Before you set that closing date, make sure your client can meet it.
  2. Not getting the proper parties to sign the contract. This issue is most common with trusts, entities, and homestead property where only one spouse signs the contract. Yes we saw “contracts” fall apart because they were not property signed at the beginning. Be very careful to make sure your contracts are signed by the right people and in the right capacity.
  3. Not getting a survey (usually for cash transactions). Yes we all know that surveys can take some time, but statistically speaking, a survey is one of the most, if not the most important due diligence item behind the title search and home inspection. We identify (and resolve) more survey issues than almost anything else we do. Yes you can close a cash transaction without a survey. But if there was an issue you could have discovered (encroachments being the most common issue), then just wait until your buyer goes to sell the property. It won’t be pretty. 
  4. Not doing the right inspections for the type of property. Probably the largest number of calls we get post-closing involve angry buyers who want to sue their seller (or realtor) because they discovered an issue post-closing that was not disclosed. And in many cases, the buyer was never advised to get an inspection. Even if the property looks new, roofs, air conditioning equipment, seawalls, pests, mold, pools, interior inspections, and anything pertinent to the buyer’s decision are all items that a buyer should be advised to inspect (even if they decline the opportunity). 
  5. Not doing homework when buying vacant land. Believe it or not, many people assume they can build virtually anything they want on property. In fact, some parcels are not even buildable. If you are working with someone buying vacant land, make sure they do their homework to determine if they can build what they want. 
  6. Not reviewing the HOA or Condo restrictions carefully. Many buyer’s assume that someone is doing this for them. That is generally not the case. There is no way a third party can know what the buyer’s unique requirements might be. Make sure you strongly encourage buyers to read these documents carefully. Don’t’ be the person who sold the buyer a condo that did not permit their beloved poodle to move in with them.
  7. And the number one issue we saw last year (drumroll please)… the failure to timely remove all of the seller’s personal effects by the closing date. Apparently some sellers feel that they can leave behind anything they don’t want. That is not true, and is technically a breach of the contract. Make sure your seller’s are well aware of their obligation to remove ALL of their items prior to closing. And please don’t take anything the contract requires to remain!
As we saw in 2019, with a little foresight, almost every issue we had to resolve (or try to resolve) was avoidable. if we head into 2020 with the mindset of having a bit better vision, your client’s real estate experience will be that much better.
As always, should you have any questions, please contact your trusted real estate lawyer. And again, Happy New Year! We at Berlin Patten Eblin hope you have an incredibly happy and successful 2020. 
Sincerely, 
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Evan Berlin, Esq. eberlin@berlinpatten.com
 
This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.
  
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