Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cathy Ashley McAlister, GRI CDPE - Broker / Sacramento


Many years ago, when I was a very young escrow secretary, a seasoned escrow manager said this to me over some challenge on a closing.  I do not remember the specific transaction but I have never forgotten the lesson.  Things come up in transactions ALL the time. 

Over the years, I have used the line many times in escrow training classes and to assist our current agent's and clients understanding of the closing process.  Transactions can take a sideways step/leap for a multitude of reasons.   That blip at the end can be very unsettling and not necessarily a matter of fault - just a matter of timing.  Short Sales already have the reputation  of running long and difficult.  This is more about the "other stuff" that can come up.

Last minute or unknown liens/judgments against the seller.  They made have been paid in the past, but no formal release was ever recorded.   Usually a DELAY

Title/Vesting issues for the seller, such as bankruptcy and or the death of a spouse can cause delays due to the requirement of necessary court documents.  DELAY OR DERAIL.

.  Buyer's not shopping homeowner's insurance early on in the transaction.  Insurance companies run a claim history on the house and some items may not have been known to the seller (think REO on that one).  Select your insurance agent early.  DELAY

Source of funds and last minute movement of money.  Buyer's having the guidance of a good loan officer will be well versed in knowing that not only do you have sufficient funds BUT where it comes from is equally important. DELAY OR DERAIL

Something new on the buyer's credit report just at the moment of close.  Buyer's shopping for big ticket items just before close.  DELAY OR DERAIL.


Buyers and Seller's, should ALWAYS have fall back positions - should they need it.   I believe as agents, we have an obligation to help clients understand these issues.  A strong knowlegable agent can prepare their client well, so that can navigate those last minute blips.  Remember, it's not soup until it records!



Comments (9)

Patty Luther
RE/MAX Rock-n-Roll Realty - Lewiston, ID
Lewiston ID Real Estate, Idaho-Washington

~oh how true ... so many things can happen~ even after it records~

Nov 07, 2010 06:50 AM
Jean Hanley
Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters - Hemet, CA
Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes

Cathy.....great topic.  As a realtor, AND a former escrow officer, I can totally agree with this.  I have seen SO MANY complications on escrows, and some don't always make it to SOUP.

Nov 07, 2010 06:52 AM
Carla Harbert - Avon, OH
RE/MAX Omega: Lorain-Medina County Area

Absolutely true facts - it's not closed until title transfers with a "clean bill of health" is what I call it. I have had the joys of being an escrow closer, loan officer, real estate agent working with buyers and sellers - experiencing years of surprises! But hardly ever lost a deal due to delays or figuring out the best way to solve an issue to get back on track. My worst experience was the night before closing, the couple I was working with had gone out to dinner after signing their closing papers, in celebration of purchasing their first home. The title was to transfer the next day. Unfortunately, they were both killed in a car accident on they way back from dinner, by a drunk driver. The sellers had already moved and signed the papers on the home they were purchasing....and there were two other closings in this chain of closings, too. The home could not file, of course, although an attorney was trying to step in and force the sale, and the other 3 closings could not take place. It was a real nightmare.

Nov 07, 2010 07:38 AM
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Cathy - AMEN!!!  You're singing to the choir on this one.  OY VEY!!!  The stories you and I could tell.  LOL  These days, it's a typical Murphys Law scenario when working with bank sellers, short sale sellers and a host of other characters.  After eight years in the mortgage business, just when I think I have seen and heard everything, something else comes along to surprise me.

Nov 07, 2010 08:05 AM
Cathy McAlister
Cathy Ashley McAlister, GRI CDPE - Broker / Sacramento - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento DRE#00648507

Patty:  Yep... they can.   But, far better, for the ugly stuff to come up before close of escrow.  Not after.

Jean:  Your an escrow veteran too!  Nice to meet you.  You and I will have to commenserate over a bowl of soup.  :-)

Nov 07, 2010 12:40 PM
Cathy McAlister
Cathy Ashley McAlister, GRI CDPE - Broker / Sacramento - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento DRE#00648507

Carla:  That story is just so sad.   And... it was the correct answer - they could not record upon death of the buyer.  Death of the seller is different, if they seller's have signed.   The worst one for us, was a young couple with two kids.  He signed and died in a shooting accident that afternoon.  The day before recording.    Since it was on the seller's side and the seller's had delivered - corporate allowed the transaction to move forward as they has delivered.  If it was the buyer, as in your situation, it would have been stopped.    

Nov 07, 2010 12:44 PM
Cathy McAlister
Cathy Ashley McAlister, GRI CDPE - Broker / Sacramento - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento DRE#00648507

Donne:  I fully anticipate that the next few years will continue to be full of surprises for all parties involved in a transaction.  It is so important that buyer's and seller's align themselves with "real" knowledge in their selection of agent and lender.  I'm sorry... but we can see the red flags more easily than they. 

Besides, nothing better than to sit down to a hot bowl of good soup that IS DONE!  Hot bread on the side too!

Nov 07, 2010 12:49 PM
Marcy Moyer
eXp Realty of California Silicon Valley Probate, Trust, and Investment Sales - Mountain View, CA
Probate, Trust, and Investment Specialist

My favorite saying: "Don't count your escrows before they are closed." Crap happens.

Nov 07, 2010 03:43 PM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Yeah, I hate it when sellers kick the bucket at closing. Just royally screws up the whole deal.

Nov 08, 2010 02:52 AM