House Calls

Services for Real Estate Pros with Topkins &

I suppose in my case, there is a genetic link to my paternal grandfather. He was a country doctor in Califon, New Jersey, and my father, then 14 years of age, used to drive my grandfather’s horse and buggy to patient’ homes all over the North Hunterdon County area to administer to them. Later on, my father drove a Model T Ford as chauffeur to my grandfather. My dad was a country lawyer, and there were many occasions when he would meet with clients at their homes in the small town of Flemington, New Jersey, where he conducted his law practice.

Fast forward to 2012, and I find myself making “house calls” to many of my clients and enjoying the experience. While there is sometimes reluctance among some people to permit invasion of their private space, I am finding more and more that people appreciate my willingness to come to them, in their familiar settings, to go over either Estate Planning, or residential real estate matters. A client whom our firm has recently begun representing, Quicken Loans, now makes it standard operating procedure for lawyers in our firm to do real estate closings either in the homes, or places of business, of their customers.

The closing experiences are varied. From time to time, they are downright uncomfortable, with rooms with poor lighting and limited table space the only available areas to execute documents. On the other hand, the Borrowers are almost always grateful that we have come to their “turf”, at times which are convenient for them, to get documents signed. Certainly, the current practice is a far cry from bygone practice, where the only time and place to close a mortgage transaction was at the Lender’s attorney’s office at a time designated by the attorney. Quicken Loan’s “back to the future” approach would appear, from my observation, to be catching on with many Borrowers, and I enjoy the challenge of making the closing experience pleasant and convenient. We are starting to make “house calls” for other Lenders, as well.

I have found that “house calls” works very well in doing Estate Plans as well. My normal procedure now is to send out a rather simple 4 page Estate Planning Questionnaire, by email, to prospective clients. When they fill in the blanks, and return the document, I get back to them with suggested documentation and a financial budget and time framework. If that approach works for them, I draft documents for them to review and submit them via the Internet. Once we have all the proper instruments agreed upon, we set a time for me to come to the client’s residence, and we execute the documents. The only responsibility the client has is to produce two disinterested witnesses to sign the Will, Living Will and Health Care Proxies. Many times I can bring my wife, who may have assisted me in the preparation of the documents, so that only one other disinterested witness will be required.

The practice of law in the 21st Century has changed considerably from where it was when I began practicing 44 years ago. There is much more opportunity to communicate via the Internet, and otherwise, and there are clients who have learned to appreciate the extra effort of “coming to them”. I almost always welcome the experience, as well, and look forward to coming to your home to assist you.


Comments (27)

Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Elliott, nice post and walk down memory lane. The good stuff still lasts a long time.                      

Aug 30, 2012 07:39 AM
David Burrows
Classic Realty - Fairfax, VA
No Pressure, Just Seriously Devoted to Real Estate

I still really appreciate the personal touch as you obviouslly give to your clients. Nice post!

Aug 30, 2012 08:57 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Elliott - I can see how many people would appreciate house calls just as they did generations ago.  The more things change. . .

Aug 30, 2012 04:47 PM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Elliott, we agree.  We deal in 55+ communities and they expect and respect you when you come to them.

Aug 30, 2012 11:24 PM
Sara Woolford & Steve Golson, ALHS
iTexas Realty Co. - San Antonio, TX
Hi Elliott- I find that people both love and expect this type of service. Now that there are personal hotspots, we can photograph to PDF and e-mail signed documents straight away for those documents which are not digitally signed. --Sara in San Antonio
Aug 30, 2012 11:31 PM
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

nice personal touch, back to the days of doctor home visits when it is really needed and for our world it is the ultimate win win

Aug 30, 2012 11:36 PM
Mary Sheridan
Keller Willliams - 1033 Hamilton Place,Johnson City TN 37604 - Johnson City, TN
Creative Marketing, Buyer Agency 423-943-7655

I'm sure there are many circumstances where this would be a welcome warm touch.   Some "good old days" things are worth bringing back, and with the capabilities of modern tools, it's not that difficult to go where the clients are most comfortable.

Aug 30, 2012 11:50 PM
Karen Steed
Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton - Tallapoosa, GA
Associate Broker Haralson Realty

What a great idea!  I'm sure people enjoy not having to drag themselves out to an attorney's office.  My real estate clients often choose to do a mail out closing when buying foreclosure properties.  It saves the long drive into Atlanta or beyond.

Aug 30, 2012 11:58 PM
Rosalie Frankel
Dominion Real Estate Partners - Cave Creek, AZ

Hi, Elliott!  Thanks for the post...a reminder that sometimes the old fashioned way is still good.  When the children were small, their pediatrician made house calls.......cannot find that now.  Appreciate the reminder that F2F is a good idea!

Aug 31, 2012 01:50 AM
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

I totally agree.  I make house calls all the time.  I think my clients are more at ease in there own surroundings than in sitting in an office, especially when taking a listing.  I have a seller client right now that lives 30 miles away, has no car, the village she lives in has no office supply store, so she has no access to a fax machine, and it's a short sale.  I've been doing a lot of traveling to help this lady out, and have made no money on it, but just being able to help people is sometimes the most satisfying part of this job!

Aug 31, 2012 01:54 AM
Michael Murphy
Bienvenidos Real Estate - Parksville, BC

A lot of my business was always done at the house of the client. Just one of those personal service offerings that goes a long way to cement a relationship.

Aug 31, 2012 02:07 AM
Brian Rugg
Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700 - Georgetown, TX
Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est

Hello Elliott:


It is always good to see a feature post from you and to now see you are doing Quicken Loans.  Real Estate sales people have been making" House Calls" for years.  Welcome to the club.

Aug 31, 2012 03:12 AM
Ron Aguilar
Gateway Mortgage Group - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

House calls are very powerful

Aug 31, 2012 06:05 AM
Peter Matyko
Keller Williams Realty Advantage - Oviedo, FL
Keller Williams Realty
Face to face in a familiar environment is the best
Aug 31, 2012 06:08 AM
Christine Smith
Buyers Brokers Only LLC - - Canton, MA
Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA

Elliott...I find myself quite often making house calls.  I don't really mind too much if they are clients I know well.  When I used to do closings, I did sometimes find myself uncomfortable going to someone's house to close a refinance - mostly because I didn't know the person and did not know the situation I'd find myself in.  

Aug 31, 2012 06:31 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Elliott,

Even though we can virtually connect, some visitin' is always more fulfilling.

Aug 31, 2012 07:16 AM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Elliott, I suspect that your house calls also lead to many referrals!  As a Realtor, I make house calls to my buyers and sellers. I also work with title companies who will do remote closings when requested.  Great post!

Aug 31, 2012 07:18 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

That's a nice touch but I still laughed because you sent the docs thru the internet first first for their approval. Hi-tech is still great too.

Aug 31, 2012 08:56 AM
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


I make house calls all the time to my client's homes.  I help them assess the appearance of their home, I help them decide what needs to go and what can stay.  I help them decide what repairs they need to do before putting their homes on the market.  I know most of my clients but helping them sell their home creates a wonderful bond.  And then they leave.

Sep 09, 2012 04:05 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I think personal service is an important over looked tool in this and many other businesses.

Sep 10, 2012 06:44 AM