It’s easy to assume the only people you’ll interact within a real estate transaction are a REALTOR® and lender (if you’re a buyer). When actually, there tend to be at least four other people that make an impact on the sale. You may only meet them in person once or not at all, yet correspond with throughout the timeline. So, who are these mysterious people? Let’s take a more in-depth look.
1. The Escrow Officer: When an offer gets accepted by a seller the next step is to “open escrow.” Escrow acts as a neutral third party throughout the transaction overseeing everything from the collection of funds (like earnest money) to the signing of documents at the finish line. The Escrow Officer works for a title company, like First American or Fidelity National Title. It is common for “escrow” and “title” to be used synonymously throughout a transaction. The Seller typically appoints the preferred Escrow Officer in the State of Oregon. The signing of documents by the Buyer and Seller will likely take place within the last week of the sale; this is when you will typically meet the Escrow Officer for the first time although correspondence will begin at the beginning of the transaction.
2. A Transaction Coordinator: Although not every REALTOR® has one, many have a Transaction Coordinator. REALTORS® may opt to hire TC’s to keep paperwork for the transaction for your REALTOR® and will likely handle the opening of escrow, send out documents for signature, and create the transaction timeline, among various other duties. You will probably hear from them on day 1 of the transaction and along the way to closing day, yet will never meet them in person.
3. The Appraiser: If the buyer is using financing (not cash) to purchase the home, the home must be evaluated by the bank loaning on the house through an Appraiser. The appraisal will be ordered by the lender likely following the repair negations when the buyer and seller have come to terms. The Appraiser will physically go out to the home that is being purchased and look at various conditions to judge the worth of the home. Such items can be upgrades to the house, general construction, interior condition, and size of the property and land it’s on, to name a few. They will take this information then compare it to other homes that have recently sold in the area typically within a half-mile radius to get the most accurate comparable sales. It’s standard for, neither the buyer or seller to ever meet the Appraiser.
4. Home Inspectors: In the State of Oregon, it is in the Buyer’s right to have an inspection contingency where they may hire a home inspector to investigate the condition of the home they are purchasing. A home inspector will look at everything from plumbing, electrical, foundation, to the roof. Although, it’s important to know they are only legally obligated to inspect what they can see on the surface and are not permitted to look any deeper. Because they are not specialists, they can only recommend having various things inspected further should they think it’s a possible health or safety concern. In this case, the Buyer will typically meet the inspector once but the seller will likely not.
And lastly, it’s common for the buyer and seller in a transaction never to correspond directly. It is a REALTOR®’s responsibility to act as a fiduciary representative to clients. Buying or selling a home is an emotional process with high stakes so make sure to work with someone you trust to accurately represent you as they will be your correspondent throughout the transaction. Occasionally you will see a REALTOR® represent both parties, although this can create blurred ethical lines when it comes to keeping a client’s best interest in mind.
There’s an exception to every rule so make sure you’re working with someone who’s giving you a clear understanding of the various moving parts and characters in a transaction. To chat more about the process of buying or selling a home, I hope you consider me, Rebecca Wilson, as a resource. I’d love to discuss options and find the one that works best for you.