paul blair

Making a Catch — or a Closing “Save” — Look Easy

“Paul Blair never made a great catch because he never had to; he was always standing under the ball when it came down.”

–Earl Weaver, Baltimore Orioles manager; “Paul Blair, Center for Champions, Dies at 69.”  The New York Times (12/27/2013).

How are great closers and great fielders alike?

They both make it look easy.

Operating well behind the scenes, real estate closers — who work for a title company (and ultimately, the home Buyer and Seller) — are the ones who clear the way for title to transfer at closing, anticipating (& fixing) technical, last-minute hurdles.

Issues like, what to do about a home equity line of credit (“HELOC”) on the home, with no evidence that the line of credit has been repaid and closed out.

Hard – Harder – Hardest Cases

In order of difficulty, here are the all-too-real scenarios:

Hard:  There’s a HELOC-related lien, but the Seller has the loan number, bank contact, and evidence that the account has been closed and any balance satisfied.

Harder:  The Seller has all above the above save the bank contact.

Hardest:  The Seller is an estate with no info on the HELOC; the Bank is defunct, and the bank that bought the defunct bank’s assets has itself been acquired through a merger.

Amazingly, Lauren Stockert, an Edina Title closer who has closed dozens of deals for me, somehow managed to navigate that last situation — plus some additional hurdles — and close smoothly and on time for clients of mine last year.

Plan B

What happens when the closer can’t get the lien removed before closing?

Usually, the closing happens anyways, but the title company must escrow a multiple of the HELOC until the proper documentation can be produced — or recreated.

So, if the HELOC was for $75k, the Seller would have to wait to receive $150k or even $225k of the sale proceeds.

See also, “Can’t Get No (Mortgage) Satisfaction“; “June 29, 2012:  ‘Be Nice to Your Closer’ Day.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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