Do You Need a Closing Agent for Your For Sale By Owner?

Thu, Nov 09, 2017 @ 08:11 AM Mary Ann Eckberg Selling a Home

After reading through the expert tips in MilitaryByOwner’s For Sale By Owner (FSBO) ebooks, I feel like my spouse and I have a solid framework to sell our home on our own.

As we wait for an offer on our property, I’m preparing ahead of time for the closing transaction. One of the factors we’ll consider is whether we should hire a closing agent. Are you in the same boat? Let's discuss the importance of having a closing agent when it comes to selling your home.

What is a closing agent?

Also called an “escrow agent” or “settlement agent,” a closing agent is an impartial entity present for the final details of a real estate transaction. As defined by Bankrate, a closing agent is a representative who “conducts the settlement meeting and makes sure that all documents are signed and recorded and that closing fees and escrow payments are paid and properly distributed.”

Why hire a closing agent?

We’ve done the research on the rules and requirements. We have working knowledge of the FSBO process. We’ve built our contract and it’s ready for a sale. Which has us asking, do we really need the presence of a closing agent?

In most cases, a home seller will need to involve a representative from the title company to transfer the title from the seller to the buyer. Additionally, in certain states, it’s a legal requirement to have a real estate attorney acting as the closing agent or working along side of a closing agent.

Which states specify who needs to be present at the closing transaction?

Depending on where we are stationed, some places around the U.S. have particular rules about who should attend the closing transaction. In some East Coast states, it’s a legal requirement to have the services of a real estate attorney. For instance:

  • In the state of Delaware, a real estate attorney must be present at closing to clarify the terms of the real estate contract.
  • Over in Massachusetts, it’s important that a real estate attorney plays an active role in the closing appointment.
  • To complete a valid real estate transaction in New York, both the buyer and the seller must have a real estate attorney present.

Of course, these rules could vary from year to year as each state changes its legislation. If a state requires the presence of legal representation, we’ll need to comply with the law and invite a lawyer to our closing. 

Who does the closing attorney represent? 

As outlined in our ebook, Answers to Your For Sale by Owner FAQ's (download below!), the real estate attorney does not represent you specifically; instead, the attorney represents the entire real estate transaction, so he or she is making sure that every actor in the transaction is fulfilling their respective obligations to include the buyer, seller, and escrow agent.

If you're following the For Sale By Owner path like we are and will be selling your home in a state where it’s not crucial to have an attorney at the closing table, you can simply have the presence of a closing agent. They will act as a neutral third party to collect the funds and documents involved. Take a look at our business directory to check for a real estate attorney who will fit your needs.  

For more detailed information on this and other FSBO topics, download the free ebook we've put together to address these questions!  

New Call-to-action