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Jim Valentine: Problems in the escrow

Jim Valentine

Problems will arise during the course of the escrow process, it just happens. We’ve long said about our real estate profession “The essence of the job is solving problems!” Things can be sailing along when out of nowhere a challenge is presented. That is when your agent will earn his keep.

Escrow challenges can come from either party or outside influences. Outside influences can include a lender issue, whether it be their incompetence in performance, or their efficiency that turns up a processing problem.

Inspectors are invited to the party to present an objective third party professional view of the condition of the property at a specific point in time. One never knows what they’ll find, or not find, which is why we hire them. Good inspectors aren’t looking for trouble, but they have a nose for finding it. Physical, pest and other property specific inspections are an important part of the process for the protection of all parties. Everyone receives some protection when the reports are distributed.

Water tests can result in the need to install a water filtration system. That can be time consuming if a whole house system is required, and certainly will cost somebody some money.

Surprising title defects can cost time in the escrow as well as some emotion. These are often the result of a relationship that has gone sour after the joint acquisition of real estate. This includes parental financial or loan signing assistance before things go south between their offspring and his/her spouse who are both on title. You might think you’ve resolved it with a “home grown” memorandum providing constructive notice to the world of your agreement when you recorded it, but some title officers can require additional signatures.

Here again you have an emotional expense and, possibly, the loss of time while the documentation is prepared and the signatures obtained.

Travel can interrupt the flow of an escrow. Some trips are planned, others spontaneous for family or work matters. We once had a buyer go on a 30-day jungle expedition in South America right after we put his purchase in escrow. No communication for 30 days. We closed on time, but it took precision international coordination.

For the most part, business can be conducted when traveling, it just takes planning. Movers not showing up as scheduled can throw a wrench into things, again beyond the influence of the seller but can affect everybody. Weather and other environmental conditions can influence the escrow as roads are closed, power is lost in a region, etc. We live in the mountains, anything can happen at any time. One must be ready.

Escrow challenges typically have consequences involving time, money and sometimes emotion. It is important that you qualify the problem and then quantify it so you know what is involved and what it will cost you in time, money or emotion.

With that you can make a determination as to how to proceed. Sometimes one or the other party assumes the problem mitigation position, sometimes it is split and once in a great while it is insurmountable considering the conditions of the escrow and the position of the parties at that point in time and the escrow is canceled.

When a problem arises, stay calm, especially if you are an agent. Don’t worry about the consequences of failure, work for success and have everybody focused on the positive outcome and the benefits they will all enjoy. It is, after all, why you were all brought together at this point in time. Don’t play the Blame Game. Whatever it is that is the problem, it happened. Work toward a resolution and closing, the common goal of all involved.

Problems will arise. Take them in stride. As you’ve read here many times, that is when you must adapt the attitude, “What’s a hurdle to a hurdler?!” Clear the hurdle and continue to the finish line, the close of escrow.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless!  Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704.  dpwtigers@hotmail.com