Use care when relying on power of attorney

Power of. . . a different sort. (Flickr photo by damndirty)

It is not uncommon for one, or even both, of the parties to a real estate transaction to be absent at the closing.

In that event, providing someone with the power of attorney makes everything possible.  But there are important matters to consider when either buyer or seller goes that route.

First, the power of attorney must be specific to the state in which the closing takes place.

Second, the real estate broker who represents the absent buyer or seller should not assume the power of attorney: It is a conflict of interest — the broker’s inherent desire to have the transaction close so as to collect a commision.

Third, a mortgage lender may disapprove of the arrangement at the last minute, and the lender always will possess more power than anyone else at the table.

Fourth, moving actual paper around, the document providing power of attorney, takes time.  That’s especially true should one of the signatories be called away unexpectedly.  The closing may have to be delayed as a result.

(It happens that next week’s closing for buyers of mine may be delayed because the signed document from a seller in France has yet to arrive here.)

In New York, where lawyers have a deeper involvement in real estate sales than in many other states, issues relating to power of attorney are likely to be flagged well in advance of the closing.  Elsewhere, not so, suggesting that buyers and sellers are well advised to proceed cautiously.

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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
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