Tools of the Trade

Real Estate Transactions - Ten Tips for a Smooth and Efficient Closing Experience
guest author: John T. Banjak

  1. Verify that parties executing the sale contract are the "correct parties" - for example, make sure the party purporting to own the property is actually the "record title-holder" and if the seller is a business entity, trust or other non-natural person, make sure the person signing the contract is the authorized representative of such entity.
  1. Ensure all property is identified and referenced in the sale contract - most notably, in commercial transactions where the seller often owns more than one contiguous parcel and there is risk of not including all of the parcels in the actual transaction. Notifying the title company and surveyor of any adjacent parking lots or ingress/egress easements is important and will expedite the title research process.
  1. Attach a "due diligence/contingency" chart to the sale contract to make sure that all parties - including third party vendors like the title company, inspectors and attorneys - all clearly note the various contingency/due diligence deadlines.  Failing to respect contingency deadlines is a common obstacle to an effective closing process. Example:

Due Diligence/Contingency Matter

Contract Reference

Party Responsible

Contingency Deadline

Financing Contingency

Page 2, Par 3


January 15, 2019

Survey & Title Contingency

Page 3, Par 8


January 20, 2019

Building Inspection(s)

Page 4, Par 9


January 25, 2019

Municipal Inspection

Page 4, Par 10


January 30, 2019

  1. Purchaser's representatives - e.g., buyer's agent, buyer's counsel - should periodically confirm that purchasers are providing the lender all relevant information and that the loan approval process is proceeding in its proper course. The inability of the lender to get the transaction underwritten and approved for closing - often because borrowers are not cooperating to the requisite extent - is key contributor to slowing down the closing process.
  1. Real estate agents for both parties, and attorneys or paralegals if applicable, should be communicating on regular basis with the title insurance agency handling the transaction - and seller must be pressed to provide all requested information to the title company to make sure that all pre-closing "processing" can be accomplished in a timely and efficient manner.
  1. Review the title commitment produced by the title company and the boundary survey provided by the surveyor immediately upon receipt and don't procrastinate when issues arise that threaten to derail (or post-pone) the closing - instead, take the issues "head on" and seek assistance from anyone and everyone who can help get the matter resolved such as the title company, attorneys, paralegals, surveyors, etc.
  1. Agents and/or attorneys should make sure their respective clients understand the "closing process" and what will need to be accomplished in order to keep the transaction on course for closing under the timeframe referenced in the contract - providing a "checklist" may help to minimize any misunderstandings.
  1. As the closing date approaches, request pro-forma copies of all intended closing documents (and the "closing statements") so that all items can be pro-actively reviewed and approved before the actual closing date; also, the buyer should confirm the exact amount of "cash needed to close" the transaction and confirm if title company requires buyer's funds to be the form of a cashier's check or money order.
  1. Coordinate the closing date and time and other "closing logistics" with the title company representative and make sure all parties are "on-the-same-page."
  1. Send a "closing instruction letter" to the title company on behalf of your client so that there can be no second-guessing as to that client's expectations with respect to the closing, and letter should serve as the "final checklist" in the process to make sure all loose ends are tied-up and satisfied.


John T. Banjak is a principal and serves as general counsel of True Title Company, LLC, in St. Louis. He has extensive experience in all facets of the title insurance profession from a legal, title professional and consulting standpoint. Before opening his current company, Mr. Banjak served as president and general counsel for three reputable St. Louis title agencies and as regional underwriting counsel for a national title insurance underwriter. He also served as senior vice president and general counsel for Pulaski Bank. Prior to entering the title insurance field, Mr. Banjak worked as a private attorney and as an assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri. He is licensed to practice law in the state of Missouri, and is a member of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. Mr. Banjak lectures frequently on real estate and title-related matters for organizations such as National Business Institute, the Missouri Land Title Association and The Missouri Bar. He has previously taught real estate law as an associate instructor for the St. Louis Community College District. Mr. Banjak earned his B.S. degree from Indiana University and his J.D. degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

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