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What You Should Know About the Home Closing Process: An Interview with Douglas Firtel and Michele Parrotta of Closing Management, LLC

By Douglas Firtel

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

CLOSING MANAGEMENT, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of PARROTTA & FIRTEL LLC and is operated by Attorney Douglas Firtel and Attorney Michele Parrotta. Together, we have over 45 years of combined experience in the real estate law field. We focus exclusively in the practice of real estate transactions, we have closed innumerable real estate transactions for single family, multi-family, condominium and PUD properties. We are especially proud that we were selected to be the exclusive attorney for the developer/owner of Blue Back Square, LLC (West Hartford, CT) in connection with the sale of all residential condominiums located in The Heritage Condominium.

Our extensive experience makes us keenly aware of the needs of both our lender clients and individual consumers. Also, throughout the years we have gained a reputation for positive advocacy of our client's interests along with exceptional customer service. With our professional paralegals, we efficiently and effectively accommodate the needs of our clients. With every deal, we take all steps necessary to ensure that each transaction closes without incident and on time.

On a daily basis we offer advice and counsel to educate and protect our clients' interest in perhaps the largest and most important purchase in their life. We provide more services than simply the review and/or drafting of documents and then execution of the same. Specifically, we represent buyers, sellers, lending institutions, mortgage brokers and relocation companies, both local and national, in all aspects of their residential real estate closings, may include but is not limited to:

  • Prepare, review and negotiate all of the terms of the purchase contract as well as the tracking of contract contingencies to insure satisfaction to protect the clients' interests;
  • Explain the mortgage process and assist in the understanding of the lenders mortgage commitment letter, if any;
  • Provide 24-48 hour turnaround service on title examinations and title commitments;
  • Assist with the terms and issues of new construction and builder contracts;
  • Close conventional loans, government loans, such as FHA and CHFA, down payment assistance loans, construction financing and specialty loan products;
  • Serve as settlement agent and escrow agent for documents and closing funds;
  • Interface with Qualified Intermediary to complete 1031 Exchanges;
  • Resolve problems that are apparent from the title examination and clear encumbrances affecting the marketability of title;
  • File deeds, disburse funds and distribute documents;
  • Provide counsel to client's questions/concerns and resolve any disputes that may arise at any time throughout the closing process.
  • What's the role of an attorney in home closings in Connecticut?

    In Connecticut, an attorney is required to represent the legal interests of the lender, the buyer and the seller. While the same attorney may represent the lender and the buyer, a separate attorney is needed to represent the seller. In addition, the buyer's attorney will act as the title agent, examine the title to the property, issue a title commitment and prepare the final title insurance policies. Throughout the process, the attorney advises the clients of their rights and responsibilities in the transaction, as well as reviews and explains all documents.

    Can you list the basic steps in the home closing process?

    One of the first steps in buying or selling your home is the execution of a real estate contract. In regard to Connecticut properties, in some counties, a buyer and seller will sign a binder. From there, the seller's attorney will draft a contract for negotiation with the buyer's attorney. In other Connecticut counties, the buyer and seller will execute the real estate contract with the assistance of the real estate agents. In those areas, it is important to remember that you are signing a legally binding contract and should always include a contingency of "attorney review" so that your lawyer can review and approve the contact to insure your rights and responsibilities are protected.

    Once the contract has been signed, a buyer will make application for their mortgage loan, if needed and at the same time, have inspections completed. Any negotiations over inspection issues must be in writing and made part of the contract so that you are assured of getting whatever is agreed upon. After all contingencies have been met, a title search is completed by the buyer's attorney's office. In a purchase transaction, the seller's attorney will be responsible for ordering mortgage payoffs and clearing all liens/encumbrances and title issues, if any.

    Throughtout this time period, the buyer is responsible to work with their lender to ensure that a mortgage commitment is issued before the expiration of the contract mortgage contingency date. If there are any conditions of the mortgage commitment, the Buyer must comply and clear those conditions to close the transaction. The buyer must also obtain homeowner's insurance covering the property for damage and liability. Normally, the initial policy must be for no less than one year's coverage and a paid receipt for the first year's premium must be provided to the lender.

    Once the above is in place, the attorneys will schedule the closing. Just prior to closing, the buyer should do a walkthrough of the property to confirm it is the condition that existed at the time of the execution of the contract. In addition, at this time, any inspection repair items should be completed and confirmed. At closing, all loan documents are executed, transfer/deeds are delivered, money is exchanged and an efficient and smooth closing is expected.

    Is there a common misunderstanding that you've noticed potential sellers and buyers have about the process?

    As of recent, a common misunderstanding of the parties is the time and effort it takes to qualify for a mortgage loan. Buyers need to be very diligent about the time frame that they meet with a lender to make application for the loan and then the need to provide required documentation throughout the process. Depending on the type of loan the buyer applied for as well as the lender they choose, the time to process the loan for a commitment can vary greatly. The buyer's attorney is a useful source to suggest lenders who have a reputation for professional and cooperative customer service. Ask your lawyer for advice in this area, it will greatly help the entire process. As to the sellers, they need to understand this timing and need to be cooperative with mortgage contingency extensions in order to keep the transaction together. If dates between contract signing, mortgage commitment and closing are very tight, the parties should be forewarned that there may be delays if the mortgage process does not go as quickly or smoothly as anticipated.

    What is something about buying or selling a home in Connecticut that most people aren't aware of that they should know?

    Unlike many states around the country, in Connecticut, lawyers not title companies are required to close real estate transactions. As a result, the attorney is much more than a mere escrow agent (holding money and swapping documents). Each party has a lawyer dedicated to protecting just their interests and positions regarding the deal.

    What are one or two things that the seller can do to help make the home closing process easier?

    Sellers often wait until they are well into a contract to contact an attorney to handle the closing. Many times there is a last minute rush because some issue has arisen and the seller will need advice on resolving the matter. I recommend that a seller contact an attorney at the time they are listing the property and certainly before they are under contract. At that time, an attorney can review the listing agreement as well as the required disclosures before the contact is even signed. This gives any seller the advantage of having the realtor and attorney working together to protect their interests so when they do get an offer, they will get the advice they need at the outset rather than wait until a problem arises at a later date.

    What are one or two things that the buyer can do to help make the home closing process easier?

    The most important thing for a buyer to do before they start the process of their home search is to meet with a lender to review their credit and to prequalify for a loan. The more detailed information the lender has at the beginning of the process, the more comfortable the buyer will be entering into a contract. They will also discover whether it is necessary to resolve an unknown credit issue which could delay getting a mortgage.

    As with the sellers, it is also important that the buyer retain an attorney at the beginning of the process. The buyer can get estimates of the fees and costs of closing as well as have their interests in the contract protected. Sometimes, a buyer is under the assumption that they are just making an "offer" on a house without realizing that the offer is in fact a contractual obligation that has legal implications, rights and responsibilities.

    What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

    Attorney Douglas Firtel
    Attorney Michele Parrott
    PH 860.561.8800
    FX 860.561.8849
    dfirtel@closingmanagement.com
    mparrotta@closingmanagement.com

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