By Kathy Kennebrook (The Marketing Magic Lady)
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me in the real estate business is how many investors leave hundreds or thousands of dollars on the table at closing due to errors in the closing documents. This is an area where many investors need to be educated. Many times investors get excited about the bottom line and forget to check the figures on the documents.
It is a mistake to assume that the HUD or closing statement is correct or that the closing documents are correct. The person preparing the closing statement can make mistakes. In addition, the person preparing the closing statement and documents is using figures that they have acquired from other people who could also make mistakes, such as the insurance company, the Realtors, the lender, home inspection service, or the surveyor.
You need to take the time to read all the documents carefully before closing on any deal. I have personally seen errors on the HUD at almost every closing I have ever been part of. Many investors only look at the bottom line and think “yes that’s enough money” but they fail to look at the whole closing statement, and in doing so possibly leave thousands at the table. I just had a closing take place recently where there was a mistake of a thousand dollars on the HUD. They put one of the buyer’s expenses on my side of the closing statement. I don’t know about you, but I think a thousand dollars is a lot of money to leave behind when you are entitled to it.
If you are looking at a closing statement and you aren’t sure why a figure is there, ASK the closing agent or attorney what it is and why it’s on the closing statement. It’s their job to make sure things are done correctly and all the figures are on the right side of the statements at a closing. Until I thoroughly learned the real estate business, I questioned every closing statement I looked at to make sure there were no mistakes.
There are some areas in particular that should be checked thoroughly. If there is a Realtor fee, make sure the percentages are correct and the payment amount to each Realtor is correct if more than one Realtor was involved in the deal.
Make sure you check the per diem interest to make sure this figure is calculated correctly. There are programs online that can help you with these calculations. I recently had a deal where I was the lender and my borrower was paying me off with the sale of the property to a buyer. When I received my check for the payoff on my note, I had been overpaid by $750.00. The per diem interest and pre-payment penalty had been calculated incorrectly. Had I not caught the error and written a check to my borrower, he would never have known there was an error. His mind was on nothing but the bottom line and he left at least $750.00 at the closing table. Compared to big checks, these may seem like small amounts, but multiply these amounts by how many closings you will do over a period of just a year and it adds up quickly! If it’s your money, you are entitled to it.
Make sure that the figures on the HUD from the insurance company, termite inspection, home inspection, survey, realtors or any other fee that should be carried to the HUD are correct. There have been many times when these figures were either incorrect or there were fees on the HUD that I had already paid out of pocket before the closing. If there are home owner association fees, make sure the pro-rated amounts on these are correct. If there is a home warranty to be paid for the buyer, make sure it shows up on the closing statement. These are all errors I have personally experienced on closing statements.
Check to make sure that the pro-rated property tax figures are correct on the HUD and appear on the correct side of the HUD. If you are due pro-rated taxes from your seller, make sure they show up as a credit on your side of the HUD. If you owe pro-rated taxes to a buyer, make sure these show up as a credit on the buyer’s side of the HUD. If there is a new loan amount or a payoff figure from a lender make sure these figures are correct. Make sure that any pre-payment penalties have been properly credited or charged. If you are paying off a mortgage, also make sure you are not charged a pre-payment penalty when none is due. This is another error I recently encountered on a closing statement.
There are other areas where I have frequently found errors so make sure you check your documents carefully before the closing. It’s much easier to deal with problems at the closing table than have them show up later and have to be corrected. If you are assisting a buyer with closing costs, make sure they don’t charge you more money in closing costs than they are entitled to. If you are assisting a buyer with closing costs and you see a big pay day on their side of the HUD, you need to open your mouth and protest it. Most lenders will not allow a buyer to take any more than 500.00 away from the closing table, especially when it is your money. If there is money left over from seller assisted closing costs, it should be credited to the seller who assisted with closing costs. It shouldn’t result in a big payday for the buyer.
Make sure you also check loan documents carefully. Check the interest rate, the balloon date and amount, and the amount of the note. I had a note and mortgage just recently where I was funding the deal for the buyer and the payee of the note and mortgage was the seller instead of me. They also had the balloon date wrong on the note. It showed a ten year balloon instead of a one year balloon because someone accidentally added a zero.
If there is an interest only payment to be made each month, make sure this is clearly stated in the note and mortgage. Also make sure that terms for late fees are clearly stated if you are the person holding a note for your buyer. Make sure names and addresses are correct and spelled correctly. Make sure you get an amortization schedule whether you are the mortgagor or the mortgagee. This is the best way to track a loan.
All of these are important points to check before any closing occurs. Don’t assume the title agent or attorney will catch the errors. They do many closings each day and they usually are unable to catch every mistake. In addition, very often the title agent or attorney is transferring figures they got from other people such as the Realtor, the lender or the insurance agent so they my not be aware that these figures are incorrect. It’s your deal and your closing, make sure the documents are correct so you don’t leave thousands at the closing table or create title problems later that could have been solved at the time of the closing of the deal.
Make sure all the documents that are to be signed and notarized are done properly. Make sure social security numbers or Tax ID numbers are correct on the 1099 so you are taxed correctly. I just recently had a closing where they put my social security number on the 1099 instead of the corporation that was supposed to absorb the income from the sale of the property. These are all real errors that occur all the time. Make sure you protect your interests when closing on properties whether you are buying or selling or simply holding a note so you don’t leave thousands on the table at the closing.
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