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Real Estate Closings – Signing Your Life Away?

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

“Whatever they put in front of me, I just signed.” Does this quote from the recent report on mortgage closings from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sound like you? Consumers interviewed for that study used these words to describe mortgage closings: confusion, stress, time pressure, cost and delays. Your experience CAN be different. Choosing the right settlement agent is critical to avoiding these common complaints.

A common complaint about real estate closings involves the timing of document delivery. The closing documents, often 100 pages or more, don’t reach the consumer until the closing, making it impossible to review and digest those documents. Ideally you would receive the documents two days prior to closing so that you can review them. Ask your settlement agent to share documents with you as they become available during the process.

Surprise fees and costs at the closing table is another common complaint about real estate closings. Many consumers report that even though they encounter discrepancies that result in unease at the closing table, they often feel pressured to sign documents during the allotted time in order to avoid risking delays or even losing the house. You should ask to see the settlement statement (HUD-1 Form) at least 24 hours prior to closing so that you can compare fees on HUD-1 with the Goof Faith Estimate you received earlier in the process.

Finally most people are overwhelmed with the sheer number and complexity of the closing documents. Neal Wolin, former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and a particularly knowledgeable consumer, vividly described his closing:

“The documents are literally impenetrable… Here I was — former general counsel of the Treasury, former general counsel of a Fortune 100 financial services company — asking my lawyer to help me through 100 pages of incomprehensible, turgid gobbledygook.”

Unlike Mr. Wolin who had his own attorney at the closing, a significant number of consumers feel that there is no one to provide explanations, answer clarifying questions or to explain the process or content to them. They describe feeling a power imbalance at the closing table: “Consumers described feeling that there was no advocate at the table to listen to their concerns and fight for their position. CFBR Report, p. 24. You can avoid this by choosing a settlement agent who you trust to listen to your concerns and protect your interests at closing.

Fiffik Law Group, PC provides a full range of services to residential and commercial buyers and sellers. Contact our experienced real estate attorneys today.


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