Closing in Florida

16 Replies

Hi Everyone,

I hope everyone had a great year and will have a better one this year with only good news.

I just closed 2 days ago on my first investment property. It is in Fort lauderdale, Florida. I live in NYC. After networking with people for aprx. 8 months I decided to hire this broker and property manager that lives in Florida. I know someone who used him for a couple of years and recently bought again from him since he is very happy with him. 

The broker called me up about 2 months ago saying he found me a great 4 unit home. The numbers sounded great to me. This is where I need everyone's advice. I went and trusted this broker with his advice from the beginning through closing. He told me that I should use this closing attorney that will deal with the title stuff etc. He said he knows the lawyer and worked with him for many years. I agreed to use him. Meanwhile I did not know that in Florida I don't need to hire an attorney.

When we got closer to the closing date, The broker told me that I don't need to worry the attorney will hire a mobile closer to be there at the closing and help me. On the day of the closing we did it by the bank in NY that I received the mortgage from.The mobile closer comes 20 minutes late. He then says I am in a rush because I have another appointment. He told me he is only a notary and cant explain in details all the documents. He will try to summarize it. The loan officer heard that and got mad. She called up the closing attorney in Florida and said that he should please call me to explain the documents as I sign it. He agreed to call in a minute and never called me. Plus the notarey charged me $175

My questions are....

1. Is there anything I should do now? or should I just be happy it is all over and enjoy my return on the home?

2. What are the advantages of having a closing lawyer?

3. Should I still hire a different lawyer for next time or just close without a lawyer?

4. Any other advice or comments would be appreciated.

In Floridayou can use either an attorney or a title co., no big difference, but I prefer to have an attorney involved. Most title co.s are owned by attorneys anyway. But, you should have either received the closing documents in advance, or had them explained them to you. For a cash purchase there aren't a lot of documents. Your "settlement fee", which you'd pay with either a title company or an attorney, should have been about $350. Your HUD will show you all the fees. I assume you got title insurance? Check the "B" section exceptions for anything unusual. In Broward county it is customary for the buyer to pick the closing agent and pay for the title insurance.

@Wayne Brooks 

Thank you for your reply. I see that the settlement charge was $350. But I also see there was a charge for Borrower's personal attorney fee for $750. Does that mean I paid an extra $750 for him to do the closing? If he never explained the documents what else did he do for me that I paid him $750 that the title company couldn't do for cheaper?

Sounds like you got hosed a bit, unless there was something extra/special he had to do for you.

@Mark Resnick  

Not much you can do now. Unfortunately, your broker was less interested in representing you than he was in helping himself and his friends in the business. There's simply no excuse for not giving you the time necessary to read and understand the documents you're signing unless you or your lender did caused the delay in getting the documents. 

Lesson learned. Trust needs to be earned and you should spend time interviewing agents/brokers just as you would spend time analyzing the metrics of an investment property.

Did you know how many investment properties the broker has purchased or owns? Many brokers/agents will tell you how great certain investment are when they in fact have never purchased an investment property themselves.

@Wayne Brooks I wish I knew if he did something special for me. Is it worth to do anything about it or just suck up the loss and learn from my mistakes?

A remote closer in NY is a notary not a title agent and is NOT allowed to explain documents to you.  That is common and it does irritate folks all the time but that is the legality of it.  The closing is technically a FL closing and unless the remote closer is a FL licensed title agent who also is a notary in NY then they can not explain diddly to you legally.  

It is a little funny the loan officer sat next to you but wanted the attorney in Florida or the remote closer to explain the documents to you.  The majority of the documents were likely your mortgage why didn't the LO just explain them?  (Silly LO) 

As far as the attorney fee on the HUD. I would call the attorney and ask that he refund that if it is not for prep above and beyond standard/normal. (doesn't sound like it is justified) There is nothing that merits that fee according to the thread. The attorney makes his money from selling the title policy not a charge like that. He will push back and you can mention you will lodge a complaint with the state. Some attorneys doing such things don't care about threats of complaints. You can take it up with the state bar and the state title insurance commission.

I am hoping that when you mention the remote closer fee that it is on the HUD and when you mention you had to pay them it was not at the time of closing.  

I would not use that attorney any more in the future just sounds like poor customer service.  

@Guy Gimenez,

I did interview this broker and I know someone personaly who used him. I agree there is no excuse for not giving me time to go over the docs. There was a slight delay caused by the bank but I dont feel that is an excuse because he should have called me at least by the closing. Ill excuse him for not going over it with me before closing due to the slight delay we had.

You are right I feel like he really wanted to help his friend at my cost. Next time I will interview people better and learn from my mistake.

@Dion DePaoli

The Loan Officer was not in the room the whole time. She was very nice and came in and out of the room to make sure everything was good or if we needed her help. 

I was a sucker and paid him the mobile notary an extra $175 that is not included in any fees on the Hud-1. I paid him cash. I think I will ask him the attorney to justify the $750 fee andsee what they say. 

You should have gotten a preliminary HUD for review. As a Florida real estate broker I always get one to approve prior to the title company sending out the docs to buyer and seller. The broker should have gone over the hud with you before you got the mobile closer. I would be pretty sure the broker did get a preliminary hud and approved it before it got to you. Did he have both sides of the transaction?

@Kevin Page

I am not sure if he got it. I think he would have told me about it if he did. But I am never sure anymore

@Mark Resnick

While the notary can't explain the documents, there is no excuse for the lender not explaining them to you. Again, sounds like her interests didn't coincide with yours. RESPA provides the buyer must have 24 hours to review the documents prior to closing...although admittedly, like so many government mandates they're simply ignored most of the time.

Originally posted by @Mark Resnick :

@Dion DePaoli

The Loan Officer was not in the room the whole time. She was very nice and came in and out of the room to make sure everything was good or if we needed her help. 

I was a sucker and paid him the mobile notary an extra $175 that is not included in any fees on the Hud-1. I paid him cash. I think I will ask him the attorney to justify the $750 fee andsee what they say. 

Mark that is a big NO NO for all the licensed folks present. While you can pay outside of the delivered funds to the title company they MUST include the remote closer fee on the HUD. It may be listed as POC "paid outside of closing". It needs to be on the HUD. That is a violation that can get the attorney in trouble.

It is concerning the LO didn't catch that just as much as it is concerning she didn't want to explain the documents to you.  Frankly that is her job and she clearly didn't do it well.  Nice or not that belongs in the fail column.  

I note that you also use the word "extra" in other words above some other fee that the closer was paid already.  These are practices that make folks loose licenses.  

Heck, now I would tell that attorney to remove that fee and give you the $175 back or you call HUD and the state. Either way I would still call HUD and report it. You are being a bit too nice - money is money and real estate is regulated if he did this to you I can only imagine who else has been taken for a ride.

I have no respect for bad practices.  

@Dion DePaoli

Wow!! Thanks I am learning here a lot on BP. The loan officer said that she dose not need have to be there officially for the closing. She said the attorney takes over with arrangements for the closing. She only offered her office to be nice since it would be easier with copier etc.

Mark she is not wrong she does not have to be there.  That is also called doing a crummy job.  It is not about is about YOU her client.  The one who just paid her.  

There are several ways in which a good LO can accommodate a closing. Some were mentioned above. Ensure closing is not a fire drill. Review the HUD prior to sending to your Borrower/client to review with them or go sit at the darn closing table and explain. Ultimately she needs to do a better job.

As an LO closings are common.  As a Borrower they are not.  That LO's mindset is what caused all sorts of problems leading up the crash and is primary fuel for the rules we have with Dodd Frank and Safe Act.  I have no issue saying she sounds like a lazy LO and I would take my business elsewhere in the future.  Proof seems to be in the were taken for a ride with fees and she does have accountability to that to a larger extent than she likely seems to think.  At the least that $175 is harm it doesn't have to have a bunch of zeros behind it.

Shame on her giving good LO's bad reputations.  

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