Sunday, July 08, 2007

Send Lawyers, Guns and Money...

When I attended my very first Closing of my very first deal with my very first client I sat at the Title Company table feeling a little like a simple house cat trying to wrap his mind around calculus. Honestly, I never paid much attention to what I was signing for the six or seven properties I bought and sold as a consumer before I was an actual Realtor. I just always assumed that my agent and mortgage guy 'had my back' and figured that they wanted to get paid as much as I wanted to move in or out. If I learned one thing in my pre-Realtor Fortune 500 career it was the concept of 'Recruit and Delegate' and there was no reason to believe it shouldn't spill over into my personal affairs, as well.

I discovered during my 15 years in a suit and wingtips that a person can recruit, if not delegate himself into and out of almost any business situation. I was even going to write a book about it once but only got about as far as I've communicated to you here before I began looking for someone else to write it for me. I'm not sure how many words per minute I type these days but I've already been at work on this for 20 minutes so you can do the math if you like. An IBM Selectric typewriter was my weapon of choice in those days so without the technology that now rests at my fingertips (and that would be exactly two with my typing technique) the man hours involved in such an endeavor would be have been brutal. And as usual, I have digressed...

So at my first Closing as a licensed Realtor I was like that actor in that dream about to go on stage with a pretty good idea of what the play is about but not the slightest idea of what the exact lines are--a cross between that, and the calculus curious cat I mentioned above. I watched and listened in amazement as the real estate Attorney went through the scores of pages in both packets--first the loan and then the title. He explained in detail what each form meant; where to initial, where to sign, and what to expect if too many late payments occured or how to make an extra payment every now and then to reduce the principle and accelerate the mortgage.

"This goes to the city. This goes to the state. This goes to your broker," glancing my way with a nod and a wink. His voice and the occasional sigh from my client were the only sounds in the room besides the furious scratching of ink on shuffling paper. Like I just said, I didn't know my lines back then so I wasn't saying a thing although I did want to interject the fact that whatever was coming to me was actually coming to my brokerage office instead and I would receive but my mere cut of the proceeds. Whatever. I just looked on in silence as I've learned to do at every Closing since.

My point here is that a Real Estate Attorney is a 'must have' for any transaction in Chicagoland. Rarely do they come into the picture before an Offer is accepted but they certainly earn every cent of their flat fee, in my opinion, from the Review Period onward. And an FYI to those of you from neighboring states or places far beyond the boundries of Cook County; Title Companies here only record and check the paperwork and distribute the funds. It is the Attorney who does all the explaining. Even after witnessing a hundred or so of such escrow closing ceremonies myself, I would be remiss in thinking I could accurately guide a trusted client through 200 pages of legal documents. And since my transaction activity spans the entire gamut of six and seven figure properties, there are just too many zeros and virtually no room for error in these scenarios for this cat.

Same holds true with the banking end of my deals. I defer to my Mortgage Guru almost 100% of the time I write an Offer. He's helping one of my clients out of a jam even as we speak, as her 'low interest rate internet loan' suicide bombed itself a week before Closing. Recruit and delegate, I'm telling you.

So okay...maybe it's not enough subject matter for an entire book but if you are still reading this by now then I am happy I guess. As I often tell people requesting my advice in real estate legal matters, "I purposely didn't go to law school because I purposely didn't want to be a Lawyer. Besides, have you ever tried to explain the Pythagorean Theorem to any of your family pets? Sure, they will listen but it's pretty obvious from the look on their faces that they are really quite content not knowing what they already don't know. What they do know is how to get fed and watered at regular intervals and I'm pretty sure that's a form of delegation, even if at the lowest of intellectual levels.

Anyway, that would be me. I'm real good at stalking down and retrieving property in Chicago and will even mix it up with the opposing licensed tomcats in the alley if necessary. But my suggestion to you when I show back up with the goods is, if you havent already my Guru then get a Lawyer.

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