Timing is Everything
Updated: May 9, 2022
When navigating through the sometimes-tumultuous waters of a real estate transaction, occasionally we, as real estate attorneys, encounter obstacles that cause us to rethink our processes. There’s that occasional hiccup in the process that forces the thought, “How can we prevent this next time?” Allowing ourselves to evolve in our practice as attorneys through positioning ourselves to handle any potential issue (before it becomes an issue) is key to being all that we can be- and for that reason, I think it’s critically important to order title for purchasing clients as soon as possible. Commonly, attorneys may wait until their purchaser receives a commitment letter from their lender to order title. At that point, the closing is two or, at most, three weeks out. Once the title report is received- closing is likely targeted for the week after, or sometimes, even that same week. If clouds on title must be cleared- that leaves the sellers with little to no time to perform title clearance. Clearing title isn’t always easy. Sometimes, tracking down a duplicate satisfaction of mortgage for a previous owner can be like trying to get one of the Buckingham Palace guards to flinch. When we’re at the mercy of other people, especially when “other people” is a large national lender- we lose control of the transaction and timelines go awry. I’ve made it a point to order title as soon as attorney approval is finalized. If I have the completed title report as early as possible, this gives me (and the seller’s attorney) the maximum time possible to negotiate any clearance items that are turned out by the title company. If our seller is an LLC or corporation, this also ensures ample time for the correct corporate documentation to be drafted and reviewed by the title company. If the seller is an Estate, this ensures ample time to account for distribution of all interests in the subject property. I offer these as just a few examples of ways in which we position ourselves to regain as much control over the timeline of the transaction as possible What’s the opportunity cost? If the title report is completed prior to the structural inspection, and the deal falls apart over inspection items- the title company has now expended resources that they’re unlikely to be compensated for. But- at the end of the day, in many circumstances the benefit of having as much information as early as possible greatly outweighs the burden.