I wasn’t on the A-list.
I wasn’t “approved.”
My former brother-in-law recently called me to discuss a housing-related question. During our conversation, he said he was going to refinance his house with a local lender and wanted to know if my office would handle the closing. I said “sure,” but told him he needed to request my law office. We hung up, and I assumed we were all set. I was just waiting for the title order from the lender.
“The bank won’t let you do the closing,” he announced on the phone later that day.
“Why? Let me guess. We are not on their list.”
He affirmed what I had already suspected, so I got the bank’s contact information from him.
The lender’s response was the standard “You are not on our approved-attorney list.” When I asked to be added, I was told, “No, our list is closed.”
“What does that mean?”
“You cannot do the closing since you have no relationship with the bank.”
Mindful of the law on this subject, I explained to her that since the customer was paying the bank charges, it was my understanding that I could do the closing because he requested my office. I told her of our relationship and that my office was going to do the closing for free (I still like the guy). She wouldn’t budge. She did, however, explain that we could review the documents. No kidding.
I’m still annoyed by this, so I wanted to delve into it for you. If you have an experienced real estate attorney, I don’t see why he or she could not do a closing for you regardless of whether that person is on the list. It is my understanding that if you are paying the bank fees, you can chose your own provider of service. In Massachusetts, a loan file must be supervised and closed by a licensed practicing attorney.
Brian Koss, executive vice president at Mortgage Network Inc. in Danvers, said his firm allows one-time approvals if the customer is requesting a particular attorney to close a loan.
But what if your lender denies this request? You have two choices: You can ask for its list of approved attorneys and pick one, or you can find another lender.
If you chose the former, I would call all of the providers, within reason, and ask about their pricing. Although there is some standardization, usually a set fee, I would probably use the provider whose price was right in the middle. I would also inquire about the location of the closing; do they provide in-home service?
Hugh Fitzpatrick is the founding partner of New England Title and Fitzpatrick & Associates PC, a Tewksbury-based law firm specializing in real estate conveyancing. Send your questions to Address@globe.com.