House Calls: Readers Offer Corrections
It's my own fault. I'm breaking the rule I made maybe 40 years ago that says to stay away from items about real estate closings. The settlement procedures in which sellers finally turn over ownership to buyers vary widely from one area to another.
A real estate lawyer in Honolulu once told me that when he gets a phone call asking whether he'd represent a buyer at closing, his response is that he would hardly know how and "You must be from New York!"
Then again, even local procedures have been changing. I never should have used that question in the column.
Behind the Times
Edith: As a paralegal who works on real estate closings, I'm always interested to see the questions you receive and your helpful, plain-language answers. I have a small quibble with a recent column, however. In it, you advise the buyer to bring to closing a certified check made payable to himself or herself, and then endorse it to the seller.
This is indeed how we used to handle the transfer of funds at closing. However, a few years ago, the banks in our area -- apparently due to some change in regulations -- stopped being willing to cash such endorsed-over or third-party checks unless both the original payee and the new payee were present at the bank. In other words, both buyer and seller would have to go together to the seller's bank after the closing, present ID and perform the endorsement in front of the teller, which obviously could be extremely cumbersome.
Nowadays in our area, the buyers deposit the closing funds into either their attorney's or lender's escrow account in advance, and the closing checks are written from there. Alternatively, the buyer brings a cashier's check payable to the seller in the exact amount needed -- which is calculated by the lender and the parties' attorneys at least three days before the closing.
Just thought you might want to know of this wrinkle. -- A.M.
Answer: Thanks for reminding me.
Here is someone from a different location correcting me with entirely different Information: