Recently, Lakewood Ranch real estate lawyer Joseph Battaglia represented a seller of residential real estate with a sales price of $495,000.00. Battaglia Law did not serve as the closing agent, as it was the buyer in this transaction who selected the closing agent, per the contract. The closing agent was a local title company, which, although associated with a local law firm, is, for all intents and purposes, a title company.
From Joe Battaglia: One of my duties when representing sellers of Florida real estate is to review the closing documents that my clients are to sign at closing. One such document is the closing statement, which, although it can take different forms, is the document that itemizes all of the credits and debits flowing to and from the parties to determine how much money a buyer must bring to closing, and also how much money a seller will net at closing.
In this transaction, the closing statement that was prepared by the title company and sent to me for review was over-collecting certain charges that were due to the homeowners’ association to which my client’s property belonged. I was able to determine this following my review of the title company’s draft closing statement, the HOA’s estoppel certificate, and a lien payoff letter that was prepared by an attorney representing the HOA. Following my review, I communicated with both the title company and the lawyer for the HOA, advised of the discrepancy, and sought clarity as to the figures. Due to these actions, the closing statement was revised so that the accurate amount was collected from my client at closing, consistent with my review and analysis. This correction resulted in additional funds in the amount of $3,413.00 being paid to my client at closing.
This was, of course, a good result for my client in this situation, and it’s certainly true that not every transaction that I review has errors on drafts of closing statements. But I believe it to be a fair assumption that, in this particular transaction, had I not been involved, my client’s net funds would have been unnecessarily reduced at closing. Certainly, my client would not have understood how to read the draft closing statement, an estoppel certificate, and the lien payoff letter. And let’s pretend that my client was, hypothetically, charged too much at closing — it’s possible that the relevant parties would eventually realize this and adjust, post-closing, for the error, but it’s also possible that the HOA could have just credited the account, which would have been a windfall for the buyer.
If you are buying or selling real estate in Sarasota, Manatee, or the surrounding counties, and you would like a Florida real estate attorney to represent you, do not hesitate to contact me.