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CEO’s Corner June 2021

joe crutchfield
Joe Crutchfield, CEO of Investors Title

Now that everything is opening up again, customers are closing inside our offices (and I’m not worried about whether I have a mask with me all the time), it feels like everything we went through is mostly in the distant past. At any rate, it certainly is nice to see people again and have meetings in person. With any luck, it will stay this way.

Real Estate Transactions: A Lesson In Collaboration

Now onto another topic: real estate transactions.

I want to talk about the nature of a real estate transaction and what really makes it work. I view a real estate transaction as a collaborative effort. Certainly, that is true for the title company or companies that are conducting the closing, issuing a title, etc. The title company personnel must clearly work together to get the deal to closing for the buyers and sellers. 

But guess what? When there is a split closing (meaning the buyer and seller each have a different title company), the level of cooperation is not always what it should be in my view. Sometimes personalities get in the way of making progress on a deal or maybe underwriting requirements may be difficult if not impossible to comply with and no flexibility is allowed. 

In any case, I try to keep these three rules in mind:  

Rule Number 1: Everyone in the deal has to do their job. 

There are many players in a real estate deal, all of whom have to perform to get the deal to the finish line. The agents, title company, mortgage lender, appraiser, surveyor, contractors and others that do repair work, etc. have to perform for the transaction to go smoothly.

 As I think about all the people in the above categories that I know and deal with, I realize how many extremely talented, hard-working individuals are in the real estate industry. I encourage you to take time to recognize and thank them for the job they do. A little thank you goes a long way.

Of course, it’s all great as long as everyone in a deal does everything right. But don’t forget rule number 2 …

Rule Number 2: Nobody’s perfect. 

Yes, sometimes people make mistakes or are overloaded and just can’t work fast enough. It’s going to happen some of the time. Usually, it’s a small percentage of transactions, but it happens; that’s just the way it is. So, when there is a hiccup on a deal I think it’s key to remember rule number 3 …  

Rule Number 3: The Closing is the most important thing. 

When a problem comes up on a deal,l the focus on the closing oftentimes is lost. Maybe only temporarily, but when a mistake is made the first question usually centers around whose fault it is which of course initiates the “blame game” with a heavy emphasis on “finger-pointing” with more than a dash of “he said, she said” (I could go on, but I won’t). 

Before you know it, several hours that could have been spent finding a solution are lost forever.  Sometimes hours are all you have. So, when there is a problem or a mistake made, my first thought is not, “How could this have happened?,” “Whose fault is this, because they’re going to have to fix it if it wasn’t ours,” or — my personal favorite — “Well, looks like we’ll just have to postpone closing, I guess.”  

No. The only question is, “What needs to be done to get the closing process back on track so the deal can close?” That’s it. How can we work together to get the deal closed? 

Because, (and here’s the “Breaking News”), all people want to do is Close. They don’t want to hear title companies or lenders or anyone else argue about whose fault it is over some situation that they may not even understand. 

Ok, I’ll stop. But next time there’s an issue, don’t forget about the Closing. 

I am struggling to come up with a snappy ending for this article so I will just leave you with this: Have a great summer and I wish all of you much success.