Your real estate agent has responsibilities to fulfill when the time draws near to signing on the dotted line at the closing meeting with the lender and escrow officer. The closing process can be very complex, with the possibility of mistakes or errors being made by either the lender or escrow officer. A skilled real estate agent helps to prevent these potential mistakes and create a successful end to the real estate transaction.
Although the responsibilities of a real estate agent generally aren't outlined in any handbook, agents are required by law to represent their client's best interests above their own. This is referred to as "fiduciary duty." Agents who attend the actual signing appointment are better able to not only represent you, their client, but are also able to sit face to face with the escrow officer and handle any confusing or misleading situations that might pop up. The agent can then help to ensure that any issues are resolved quickly and correctly.
Before making the big commitment and proceeding to the closing table, it's a good idea to accompany your agent on a final walk-through of the home the day before closing to ensure that no damage has occurred since the initial contract was signed. Additionally, items found during the inspection can be reviewed at this time to ensure that each defect has been remedied. A walk-through right before signing helps to eliminate any after-closing surprises.
The HUD-1 Settlement Sheet is an essential closing document prepared by the escrow agent that lists all the expenses or credits for both the buyer and the seller. Items such as pre-paid interest, pro-rated taxes and insurance payments or down payment amounts are itemized in columns for clarity. Mistakes could have been made by the lender or the escrow agent, and these mistakes can often be noticed and corrected by a detail-oriented and alert real estate agent.
Satisfaction of Terms
Another duty or responsibility of a real estate agent during closing is to make sure that all terms and conditions of the contract have been satisfied before the deed transfers ownership. Contractual agreements, such as the purchase of a home warranty by one of the parties or an assumed lease of a water softener, could be last-minute details that need attention. The agent can also assist in making sure that all contract paperwork is supplied to escrow to complete the transaction.
Meribeth Phipps has been a real estate broker since 2000, specializing in residential new home sales. She holds a bachelor's degree in business and marketing.