At a closing, what’s a real estate agent to do?

A closing that went smoothly for the buyer I represented.

When I go to a closing here in New York, most of the time I have nothing to do.

While doing nothing is boring, it’s also a good thing.  It generally means that the closing is going well.

But sometimes a broker has to do more than gossip with the broker on the other side of the transaction, play with a handheld device or complete a crossword puzzle.  That’s not a good thing.

At a recent closing, the attorney for the buyer, whom I was representing, had been trying unsuccessfully to extract a few hundred dollars judiciously from the seller for a relatively minor defect that we detected at our walkthrough.  Finally, he asked me if I wanted to give it a try as the minutes ticked away.

I got to be the bad cop, walking into the office occupied by the seller, his attorney and his broker.  The strategy worked, I’m happy to say, just because I felt free to harangue just a bit.

The longest closing I ever had extended for four hours — about twice the average — and it occurred in suburban D.C. over whether money had to be paid to bring the electrical system  up to code.  In the end, the seller relented, and my buyer was pleased.  But the episode was taxing, if rewarding.

The subject of closings came up recently in a discussion with several other brokers.  One said he had attended one that lasted 10 (!) hours because the bank’s attorney showed up very late.  Others chimed in about similar, though not so lengthy, delays for the same reason.

It seems banks, which hold the mortgage money, can be as cavalier as they like.  What’s a buyer to do?  Walk away?

As you see, the best closings are the quickest and the ones at which we brokers are the most bored.

That’s not to say we don’t have an important hand-holding role and that we don’t enjoy the satisfaction of having assisted with a sale that is nothing like a pair of shoes, a car or a roomful of furniture.

My biggest psychic reward (as opposed the monetary one in the form of a commission check) is knowing that I have helped someone move out of or, especially, move into a new home.  “Home” has meaning, lasting meaning.

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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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