Welcome to the game! What’s your name?
Who is Who in Real Estate?
Imagine, you arrive at work, and you don’t recognize any of your co-workers. The names on the doors and desks have changed. Imagine that next week these new people will be replaced again – with new phone numbers and email addresses.
You thought you knew every player on the Seahawks? Think again. On day two of the season, you will not recognize a single one. Imagine that from one week to the next there will be new and different players on your team. Being the 12th man would not be much fun.
Welcome to the working world of real estate.
Meet the real estate quarterbacks.
Every time a seller and a buyer come to terms, the team formation begins. The agents for the seller and the buyer are real estate quarterbacks of sorts, but more often than not they don’t know each ofter. The job of the two agents is to move the transaction to a successful close. To that end, they will work simultaneously with and against each other, always in their respective clients’ interests.
Get to know title and escrow.
It is the prerogative of the listing agent to invite the title and escrow professionals to the game. Their names may not be familiar, but the buyer’s agent usually doesn’t object. There are many title companies and even more escrow companies. For every real estate transaction, they employ a team. To keep up with the names of everybody can be challenging. As the game draws to a close, escrow effectively functions as a referee, impartial and vested with powers to delay the game if necessary.
I hardly knew you.
On the buying side, the key positions are taken up by the lender and the inspector. In the case of a cash deal, the lender is absent and substituted by proof of readily available existing funds. Depending on the circumstances, the importance of the real estate inspector is minimal or crucial. In fact, the results of his or her performance can end the game prematurely. Then, the team members disband mumbling “I hardly knew you.”
No player is more scrutinized than the lender and the loan officer, whose name is on the buyer’s pre-approval. As with title and escrow, much happens behind the scenes where the plays are being called. Take the underwriter, for example, a mostly anonymous figure who wields great influence. Let’s not forget the appraiser who is a special player with a carefully guarded identity. As with the inspector, his or her performance can end the game. While most everybody on the field takes a time-out, the lender people are busy getting the documents – “the docs” – ready for escrow. One of the most often asked questions in a real estate transaction has to be “when will the docs be at escrow?”
Drawing to a close
After the docs have arrived, escrow issues the invitations to sign the papers – a little stack for the seller and a huge stack for the buyer. On the day of signing, a new player enters the field – the “signer” who is a notary public. I often attend these signings in a ceremonial capacity, but sometimes I watch a toddler who finds the pens used for signing irresistible.
On the day of closing, the transaction is “funded” and registered with the county. The game is over with a somewhat anticlimactic last play. The buyer’s agent receives a picture of the rock under which the house key is hidden. The teams disband with emails of “thanks, good game” and virtual high-fives in an imaginary end zone.
For the buyer and the seller the results are real – a new home for one and fond memories for the other. Thanks to monthly real estate newsletters like this one, they are both more likely to remember my name. Pass it on to your friends.