Closing Coordinator- The Toughest Job In The Law

Real Estate Attorney

How can it be that the closing coordinator has the toughest job in the law? Isn't that the person who talks on the phone, fills out some forms and rarely gets coffee? How can that be tougher than being a trial attorney?

Yes, being a trial attorney is very difficult, but being a closing coordinator is tougher, still. The reason, time and certainty. Let me explain.

With the trial attorney, you have months or even years to prepare your case. You get to choose your witnesses. Your judge tells you months in advance the date on which your trial will begin. The trial attorney has time to plan.

Relative to certainty, a trial is an art, not a science. Nobody, not the trial attorney, not the judge nor any of the other attorneys, or anyone else for that matter, really knows what is actually the best way to try a particular case. For example, if a trial attorney asks a particular witness a particular question in a particular way, juror I may think he is being too mean; juror 2 may think he's being too soft; juror 3 may think he is a blowhard; juror 4 may think he doesn't care about the case; juror 5 may thinks he is just right and juror 6 may be worried about lunch. It is simplyimpossible to please them all; what works best for one juror might turn off another juror. This leads to the double-edged sword of uncertainty. Trial attorneys second guess themselves and they are always thinking that they could have done better. That is why they are all prematurely gray. If their hair isn't gray, it is probably being dyed. However, there is also cover due to uncertainty. There is no right answer. Furthermore, most people don't know the rules of evidence, but they do know they couldn't do any better.

A closing coordinator does not have the luxury of time. Sure, the realtor may have been showing the buyers a home for months. The file may have been languishing while the approvalswere being done by the lender. But, now, there is loan approval. The closing coordinator islucky if they have 24 hours to act. I was once literally in my car, driving to a closing, when I gota call that a second closing was being put on; a monthly quota for somebody at the lender was on the line. The closing coordinator had to prepare those documents while I am driving, fax them to the lender so that they could be copied and the closings could happen back-to-back. I don't think she even had 45 minutes to get it right.

Let's see what normally happens. Once the clear to close is given, everyone wants and expects to close now; there is always a reason. The rate lock is about to expire, they have to move in before the weekend, the movers are scheduled and they can't get them again for at least two days, it is Junior's birthday, family is visiting and they won't be able to help with the move if the closing doesn't happen, it's the end of the month, their lease is going to expire, the other side is going to pull out of the deal if it doesn't close and and everyone, except the closing coordinator, of course, wants to make bonus. Hopefully TRID will end this.

Unlike that cartoon, failure of others to plan or act DOES constitute an emergency for the closing coordinator.

Now let's see what the closing coordinator has to do in the next 45 minutes to 24 hours: Contact the parties to schedule a time when the closing can happen. Someone's schedule is always full, someone is always a prima donna, someone doesn't want to miss work, someone is going to be out of town, someone isn't ready. Next, they need to figure out the adjustments. Sure, the other side should be providing them, but there is always someone who doesn't either know what they are doing or they pretend to be or are too busy or too lazy to act. What about the taxes? County, school, village, town. What about water readings? What about fuel readings? What are the time periods? When did they adjust? Are they late? Is there a penalty? Who pays? How is the credit going to work? Is there a special assessment district? What about the homeowner's association? What about the road dues? What about late fees? Is it a leap year? Are there 31 days in the month? Did the mortgage amount change? In what county is the property located? Did that county raise their deed stamps? Mansion tax? What about the mortgage tax? Is there a special mortgage assessment? Do they get the $25.00 deduction? Natural person affidavit, in duplicate? Credit union exempt from tax? Governmental agency exempt from tax? Is tax transferred to buyer? What is the property code? Does that county work off the code or intended use? How many pages are the documents? Is there an extra page on the legal description? Cover page? What about the title insurance? What riders are needed? Zone I ?Zone 2? What about the payoff? Is it FHA? Is it a credit line? Is the satisfaction fee included? What time is the closing happening? Is there time to get the package out? When is the weekend? What about the checks? Is ita bank check? Do they want the checks split? What about commission statements? What about seller concessions, can they be used? Are all of theconcessions being used? Can the concessions be adjusted? Are the buyers bringing sufficient cash to close? Is it new construction? What about the extras? What about change orders? Did they reverse the deed stamps? The survey? Do you have to reimburse the capital accounts? Who paid for the search? Is there a power of attorney? Is there a rental? Are the rents paid? Are there security deposits? Are there letters to the tenants? Do your numbers with balance to the penny? Oh..l almost forgot, you were supposed to do a deed. Are there middle initials? How are they taking title? What about the TP-584? Is the seller out of state? Is the seller exempt fromtax from the sale? Is the New York State tax rider attached? What about social security numbers? What about the people refusing due to privacy concerns. What about the E&A? Can you use cross-outs (I am not even talking about New York City). Does the other side agree? Can you move the closing? Now we have to back it up. When's the wire coming? What about funding approval? Oh..your 45 minutes are up. When are you going to work on the other file? There simply isn't sufficient time to prepare the closing packages the way you would like.

When you look at a closing coordinator, you should think of a duck going upstream against rapids. It may look peaceful on top, but beneath the surface of the water, they're furiously paddling trying to make everyone's clients happy.

The next problem, of course, is certainty. This is the exact opposite of the trial attorney. Unlike the trial attorney who practices in a field where few people know the rules of evidence and nobody knows the right answer, with the closing coordinator, EVERYBODY knows the right answer. Everybody knows how to count money, especially their money, TO THE PENNY. Everybody wants to know why they had to spend this extra 50 cents here (I forgot to mention, if you have more than two surnames, there is an extra 50 cents per document; depending on the county for recording fees, of course). And all those people, they get to review all of those documents, at their leisure, whenever they want. They get to play Monday morning quarterback, two months later, and question why you did what you did. Somehow they think that even though the insurance declaration page that the closing coordinator was given was marked paid, the closing coordinator should have known that it was unpaid and they should have verified it. Everyone expects the coordinator to do everyone else's job not once, but twice.

Of course, the government bureaucrats are there, as well. You must have this disclosed and that disclosed and these amounts given here and this placed there, and, of course, none of those rules apply to the government which ignores them with impunity.

Do you want to talk about pressure? With the closing coordinator, a simple error of one decimal place can cost $10,000.00. A simple transposition of two numbers will result in papers not being recorded and rights being unsecured. This then, would require additional work (when are they going to find the time?), to fix the mistake, even if it is relatively trivial; even if it wasn't theirs.

Simply put, the closing coordinator is trapped in a no-win situation. As we know, everything rolls down hill and falls on the closing coordinator's back. They aren't given sufficient time while they have four wannabe masters telling them what they have to do now. If anything is wrong, there is no place to hide. There is no uncertainty. Everyone knows the answer, even after the closing, to the penny.

When the trial attorney wins, the trial attorney is a hero. When the closing coordinator pulls off a flawless closing, nobody says a thing; perfection is just expected.

The unknown, uncelebrated, faceless closing coordinator toiling in the bowels of an office is the foundation on which the entire real estate industry is supported.

The next time you have a closing, especially if it is a problem closing, instead of shouting at, give a shout out to the closing coordinator. They are paddling like heck. Remember, it is the toughest job in the law.


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Joan Dickie
Keller Williams Premier Realty - La Crosse, WI
Keller Williams Premier Realty

You are right on the money.  The job of a closing coordinator can be so complicated, and is so under appreciated.

Thank you closing coordinators for all the hard work you do to pull everything together from many different sources.

Dec 23, 2015 07:44 AM #1
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Good morning Richard. The sad part about it, they seldom get the credit. Whenever we will be working with a new attorney or title company, I get the name or the paralegal or closing coordinator so that I can speak to them. I make sure to also let them know who my assistant is and the processor on the file.

Dec 23, 2015 05:37 PM #2
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Something I think most people would not consider. You really shed light on the difference between the two.  I worked for a law office (doing the billing) for many years and know from my experience how stressful a job it can be. I remember the stress and chaos associated with the real estate closing cases and how things had to be done at the drop of a hat and always needed "yesterday".

Jan 08, 2016 01:45 AM #3
Tracy Santrock
Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. - Cary, NC
Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge

Closing coordinators are worth their weight in gold if they are good time managers, great project managers, and understand how to juggle priorities when there are deadlines.  

Jun 27, 2017 03:00 PM #4
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