Under the new federal real estate settlement procedures that took effect late last year, an unexpected problem is taking shape: Many lenders and title companies are refusing to provide copies of the final closing documents to real estate agents representing homebuyers. That, in turn, is threatening to jeopardize one of the traditional services agents perform for their clients — scrutinizing closing statements for inaccuracies that could cost them money or delay the settlement unnecessarily.
Yet in a recent internal survey of members across the country, the National Association of Realtors found that 54.5 percent of agents reported they had experienced difficulties obtaining the closing disclosure form used under the new federal rules, and that half of these agents detected errors when they finally reviewed them. The errors included incorrect fee charges, commission splits, taxes and failure to include seller concessions to the purchasers, among others.
In some cases, when closing disclosures had to be changed and reissued — triggering a mandatory three-day waiting period for the purchasers and delaying the settlement — sellers have balked and even canceled sales. Eric Post, principal broker at BHGRE Realty Partners in Portland, Ore., told me “we’ve had some situations where this caused the termination” of entire deals because the delay “wasn’t acceptable” to the sellers.