By Maggie FitzRoy, Contributing Writer
A fully executed contract is always celebrated by Realtors, whether they are the seller’s agent or represent the buyer.
But that’s just the beginning of much hard work, because it’s time to prepare for the closing.
Many people and companies are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that will need to be put together to get to the happy day when the keys to the home can be handed over to the buyer.
Joanne Chando, a Realtor from Fort Myers, detailed the getting-to-the-closing process during a Florida Realtors continuing education course last month.
Roadmap to Closing was offered at the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors office in Jacksonville Beach as a webinar, monitored by NEFAR Education Coordinator Ruth Bonfante.
Chando taught the class live from a studio in Orlando to Realtors throughout the state.
She presented it in conjunction with a 17-page handout and students could ask her questions by texting a message to a number on the screen.
Leonard Cannarozzo of Florida Homes Realty said he found the class as effective as if Chando had actually been in the room.
“The sound quality is good, the projection is good,” he said. “It’s just like she is here.”
The course presented options in the event of failed inspections for roof, wood-destroying organisms and electrical or building code deficiencies.
It explained how to differentiate between the closing activities of a conventional contract, a cash purchase and a HUD/VA financed transaction.
It provided options for getting to a timely closing in the event a property is found to have a correctable title problem.
And it presented a timeline outlining every step between a contract’s acceptance and the closing, as well as the duties of the listing broker, selling broker, the buyer and the seller.
Throughout, Chando continually stressed the importance of paying attention to and heeding deadlines and dates for each step of the process.
“A deadline is a deadline and a date is a date,” she said. “It’s not a suggestion, in the same way that a stop sign is not a suggestion.”
Over the course of three hours, students learned to verify the proper paperwork; the time constraints for inspections, approvals and title searches; and about possible additional inspections and concerns.
With the verification of proper paperwork, students learned how to go through all forms line-by-line to be sure everything is properly signed and dated.
• All addendums should be signed and dated.
• The correct, most current forms should be used.
• If the property is a condominium, documents, bylaws and other pertinent forms must be included.
• The property’s legal description should be verified.
• The seller’s net sheet must be prepared.
• The seller’s signed disclosure must be included.
• Appropriate homeowners’ association documents must be completed and included.
• If VA financing is involved, the real estate agent should know if the contract that is being used requires a VA rider, addendum or separate contract.
• If FHA is involved, the real estate agent must check to see if the contract includes the FHA rider addendum or separate contract.
• Proof of deposits must be verified.
With time constraints for inspections, approvals and title searches, Chando said there are likely to be a number of contingencies and other critical dates that must be met in order to keep the contract binding.
• Mortgage application: Most contracts call for it within a specific time frame.
• Toof inspection, which is “as much an art as it is a science.”
• The wood-destroying organisms inspection, previously called termite inspection.
• General inspections: The buyer’s agent should recommend they be performed by a professional home inspection company.
• Pool inspections should be done by a reputable company.
• Seawall inspections should be done by specialists.
• Title searches: If there are problems, the agent should check the specific contract as to the time limits the seller has to clear them.
Realtors also may be responsible for additional inspections and concerns, Chando said, and should be proactive regarding them.
“Gone are the days when you could say, ‘I’m the buyer’s agent and that’s not my job,’” she said.
More and more people are getting their real estate license, she said, “which means we are working with some people who don’t know what they are doing.”
She suggested agents prepare a checklist when the contract first becomes fully executed and to construct a timeline for each item on the list.
Additional concerns might include:
• Who pays for what
• Recommending vendors: Try to recommend at least three per specialty.
• Rented or tenant-occupied property: Generally the lease goes with it and must be verified.
• Inventory in rented property: The purchase contract should include.
• Building permits should be verified.
• Sewer or septic and water supply should be verified.
• Condominium approvals must be obtained.
“We’ve covered a lot of material,” Chando said at the end of the class. When it comes to closings, “you want to make sure everything is tied up nice.”
Chando is a regular NEFAR instructor, Bonfante said, and teaches many in-person classes as well as webinars. She also has spoken nationally.
Bonafante said this year NEFAR will host 11 more webinar-style classes, all taught at the Beaches location and also in either the Palatka or the St. Johns County office.
They will be held once a month, except in August.