Key Points To Ask A Settlement Agent

By: Elias Moran


Real estate transactions are not simple and if you don't know what you're doing, you might be in for nasty surprises. A settlement agent can help make the process easier so that transactions go off smoothly.

Unlike a real estate agent who finds properties for clients, settlement agents deal with the end of transactions. For example, if you've found a house you like and have already negotiated the process of buying it, the settlement agent will be involved in the closing by facilitating the transfer of securities, cash and compensations to the seller, if any. As the designation implies, he or she ‘settles' the deal and makes sure everything's in order.

Since real estate transactions are so detailed and involve a huge sum of money, it's vital that the process plays out without a hitch. Never attempt to handle it alone unless you're a seasoned real estate investor and know everything there is to about real estate transactions.

Are you a settlement agent? Or a lawyer?

Settlement agents and lawyers are very different even though the latter is also called to advice on a few real estate transactions. Where a settlement agent doesn't give legal advice but is an expert in the settlement process, a lawyer can dole out legal advice but may not have complete knowledge of how to close a deal.

With designations overlapping each other these days, it's easy to unconsciously come under the impression that they're one and the same. Don't make this mistake and ask the person you're interviewing what his or her designation is. Examine license and related documentation to back up claims.

Do you act on behalf of buyers or sellers?

Settlement agents work for buyers and sellers separately but some cater to both. Your agent should act on your behalf to avoid conflict of interest.

How do you charge?

Money is, perhaps, the single defining factor that influences a person's decision to hire a settlement agent. You want someone who charges a fixed fee or someone who tells you that you're likely to incur additional charges in case the transaction hits a block. The amount presented to you should include settlement fees and government taxes which can amount to quite a bit. It's better to know the amount outright rather than receive an unwanted surprise later.

While price, i.e. the fee charged by the agent, shouldn't be so high as to rob you blind, neither should it be too low. The world of real estate and transactions costs money and anyone offering to help you for a pittance should be viewed at with suspicion. You can arrive at an approximate fee by speaking with at least three settlement agencies.

Cost shouldn't be the driving factor of your decision to hire an agent even though it should have a big influence. This is because there's no minimum or maximum fee. Agents usually set cost based on their experience, type of clientele, location catered to etc., so even one that doesn't charge much may be an excellent agent.

Seek references from people you know as they're not likely to point you in the wrong direction. Trust your instincts and if at any time you feel uncomfortable with the agent you're interviewing, move on to someone else.

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Hire Harman Settlements for commercial and residential settlements as they have no affiliation with any real estate companies. Visit here and take a look at their profile and services.

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