Buyer’s Agent’s role and responsibility

While many Realtors both list homes for sale and represent buyers, many experienced Realtors learn over time which side of the transaction (listing vs. buyers) they really enjoy. In many cases successful Realtors develop teams who specialize on one side or the other because their special skill sets. We can provide referrals for Realtors who specialize in representing buyers. Click here to contact us for a referral.

Your home loan toolkit

This is an excellent step-by-step financing guide that was developed by the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) in 2015 and will be a required handout/disclosure from lenders to all their new borrowers after October 3, 2015. The guide covers the new consolidated Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms, the most important steps you need to take to get the best mortgage, understanding your closing costs and how to be a successful homeowner. This guide is useful for all consumers but especially helpful if you are a first-time homebuyer and new to the process. Click here for sample home loan toolkit.

Key Terms and Steps

Pre-Qualify for Loan – The first step is to understand how much of a house you can afford to buy. Not only do you need to know this, but your Realtor is going to want to know (and have it in writing) before they even start identifying possible homes in your price range. This is great first step for potential buyers because you learn current financing options available in the market, required down payments and estimates on your monthly payments. A lender will review your credit and can issue a statement providing preliminary loan approval up to a set amount. Contact us for a reliable lender referral to assist you in this process.

Earnest Money Deposit – Most sellers will require an Earnest Money Deposit or “Down Payment” at the time the sale or purchase contract is signed. Market conditions and local customs drive the exact amount and your Realtor will be well versed in these requirements. The Earnest Money Deposit should be made payable to Real Estate Closing Solutions, LLC and delivered to our office along with a copy of the contract.

Inspections – You will want to ensure the home you are purchasing does not have any major structural, electronic or plumbing flaws. Work closely with your Realtor and hire a professional inspector to identify any major problems or issues. If a reliable referral is needed, we would be happy to provide you some recommendations. Click here for our referral form.

Appraisal – Your lender will want to determine the property’s fair market value, particularly in relation to the amount they will agree to loan you. A common term in the industry is Loan-to-Value Ratio or sometimes simply referred to as the “LTV”. In recent years, lenders have become a little more restrictive as to how much they are willing to loan in relation to the value of the house. A common quoted “LTV” is 80%, meaning the lender is only willing to loan up to 80% of the appraised value of the home. For example, a $100,000 appraised home could get an $80,000 loan with the new home buyer/borrower having to come up with the extra $20,000 to purchase the home. Work closely with your Loan Officer. Policies, procedures and underwriting guidelines are constantly changing. Don’t ever assume you cannot qualify for a loan! Many of our customers have been pleasantly surprised by what a knowledgeable Loan Officer and Realtor can accomplish when armed with the latest market knowledge and products! Click here for our referral form.

Homeowner’s Insurance – Because your new home will be used as collateral for your new loan, your lender will require that your home is insured against loss and damage. Be sure to coordinate this coverage early in the process and well in advance of the closing date. Your insurance agent will need to provide a proof of coverage and provide a binder for closing. A little Florida fun fact…if a hurricane is forecasted to make landfall, insurance providers will suspend all new coverage’s until after the hurricane has passed and will require a inspection of the property. While very rare, closings have been delayed due to these powerful but infrequent summer storms. Please let us know too if you need a strong local insurance agent referral. Click here for our referral form.

Walk-Throughs – Within 24 hours before your closing, work with your Realtor to conduct a walk-through of the property to ensure that it is in good condition and that all issues and contract contingencies have been met. Because of the new requirement, effective October 3, 2015, that the buyer/borrower receive their Closing Disclosure Form at least Three (3) Days prior to closing, many Realtors are recommending an additional walk-through 10 to 11 days before closing. That is the date the lender is requesting all information for the closing to be reported so that they can compile all information to meet the 3 Days prior consumer disclosure rule. Basically, all inspections, repairs and anything that potentially impacts the buyer-seller agreements or pricing adjustments need to be completed and agreed to by this early date. Anything that could change the loan amount or loan structure after this time would cause a delay in the timing of the disclosure and your transaction will not close on the assigned closing date.

The Closing – Typically in Florida, we see the Listing Agent; the sellers; the Buyer’s Agent the Buyer’s Lender; and the buyers attend the actual closing ceremony. All parties generally sit around a conference table, sign numerous documents to finalize the transaction, transfer of ownership and disburse funds. Because collected or wired funds are required, we can disburse funds and the Realtor can present the keys at closing.

International Buyers and Sellers – We handle a large volume of international buyers and sellers. We routinely handle these closings via Overnight packages, local notaries/attorneys, etc. Documents are held in escrow pending final steps and funding. We also have a strong strategic partnership with MonyCorp to facilitate foreign exchange and international payments. You can be confident that your currency will arrive where you need it, when you need it. Simply contact our team and your closer to coordinate these services.

We offer Spanish-speaking closing services.

What to Expect at Closing

  • Bring your driver’s license or government issued photo ID (military ID, passport, etc.) and your social security number or green card to closing. Copies will be made at closing.
  • State law mandates that title companies disburse on “collected funds.” Therefore, it is now required that all funds be wired from respective financial institutions. All other forms of payment, like Cashier’s Checks, require clearing of funds that can take 3 to 5 business days and ARE NOT deemed to be collected funds that can be disbursed to pay outstanding mortgages, Realtor commissions, lender fees, recording fees, etc.

Married, Separated or Divorce Status – There can be a lot of confusion in Florida as to who is required to attend closing and sign documents when it comes to marital status. Florida is a Homestead state, meaning that unless you are purchasing investment property your spouse will need to attend the closing, provide proper identification and be prepared to execute documents. If you are obtaining a mortgage and your spouse is not on the loan they will still need to attend closing, provide proper identification and be prepared to execute documents. For example, the lender will still require both signatures on the mortgage (not the promissory note) creating the collateral interest in the Homestead property.

We often see confusion as to marital status when it comes to Separated vs. Divorced. The best way to look at this is – In the eyes of the law are you still married? Legally, if you are separated but the divorce is not final, in the eyes of the law you are still married and your spouse will be required under the law to attend closing and sign as the spouse with all rights, responsibilities and duties.

Homestead Exemption – Every person who has legal tie to real property in Florida and who resides on the property on January 1 and in good faith makes it their permanent home is eligible for a homestead exemption and saving on their taxes. Simply Google the Property Appraiser’s Office in the county in which your property is located for filing requirements, tax savings and timelines.

Post Closing – Unless you are in the title and closing business, these are all the activities no one else thinks about! We are not only responsible for getting all parties to the closing table with the proper documents and funding but continue post closing to ensure all outstanding mortgages and liens are paid timely, that the satisfaction of mortgage is recorded by the prior lenders, that all mortgage and deeds are timely recorded and the title insurance policies are issued to the new Owner and Lender.

Records Retention – Several weeks after the closing, the new buyers will receive their Owner’s Title Policy from our team here at Real Estate Closing Solutions. You should file this with your other closing documents and store in a safe place. These documents will be very useful and can save you time and money when you look to sell or refinance your existing mortgage. For instance, in the event of a refinance, proof of your prior Owner’s Policy qualifies you for reissue discount which dramatically reduces your related closing costs. Simply give us a call back here at RECS and we can assist you through all future transactions!