There is nothing like a closing. Thankfully.

The truth is I hate closings, which are as ritualized as a religious service.

They never start on time. A key individual always is late. The amount of paperwork is oppressive, and the time taken for lawyerly explanations and writing signatures drags as slowly as a dial-up connection.

Photo by Orin Zebest

What brings up this topic is the closing I attended yesterday. I always go to see a transaction through to its conclusion and provide whatever comfort I can to invariably anxious clients.

Along with the buyer, whom I was not representing, I arrived 10 minutes early. The two of us sat in a downtown law office’s reception room with only five seats for the nine of us and anyone else who had business with the firm.

The buyer and I chatted while the other participants straggled in, wet as they were from the wind-whipped snow.

Finally, we were admitted into a conference room and took seats. At the head of the table sat the closer. To his immediate left was the seller with her attorney and then me in a line. The composition was the same on the other side, except the person at the attorney’s right was, naturally, the buyer.

We waited for the seller’s bank, which held her mortgage, to arrive. Ten minutes later, she finally showed up, apologetically. It seems to be written somewhere that the bank’s representative always is late–this one was a nursing student. (Don’t ask.)

The most interesting thing happened at the outset, when the seller’s attorney raised an objection to language in an agreement for the buyer’s parents to escrow a year’s worth of maintenance fees to cover the unlikely possibility that she would, as a nanny/performer, fail to pay her monthly bill from the co-op on time.

Although the closing schedule had been know for at least a week, the lawyer said he had received the agreement only two hours earlier and had responded with his questions within minutes.

That’s another fun part of closings: Virtually everyone involved seems to operate in a crisis mode, never producing paperwork or signed documents until literally the last minute.

Phone calls were made to the co-op board president, the board’s lawyer and heaven knows who else–possibly as well to the buyer’s Israeli parents, who were paying for the place in cash.

There ensued much whispering between client and lawyer. In the end, it all worked out as I literally twiddled my thumbs. Alas, I had forgotten to charge my BlackBerry, so I was left to contemplate others pecking away and the number of tiles in the ceiling. I was tempted to take out the biography of Warren Buffet that I was reading, but, I dunno, thought better of it.

Even with everything worked out, I still had nothing to do as papers changed hands with numbingly slow speed.

Okay, I lied. I did have something to do: Fighting off the urge to doze off.

Because the buyer wasn’t borrowing money from a bank, the closing finished in nearly record time for me – under an hour and a half. (I have had some closings last four hours, though happily not that often.)

In the end I received my rewards: A client who hugged me in gratitude, a buyer ecstatic over purchasing her first home and a check representing my commission for the successful sale of the Upper West Side apartment that I had listed.

Given the tedium, the rewards seemed almost not worth it. Almost.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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