Saturday, September 22, 2007

query: can the seller of a home ask for a cashiers check from the buyer

Yes, make that a double YES.

In fact, in Pennsylvania the PAR, that's Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, approved sales agreement includes the provisions that the buyer will provide the seller with a cashiers or certified check at closing. It's under TERMS on the first page of the contract. It says "cash or cashier's check at settlement" which implies clearly that the seller has bargained to receive good funds at closing and that the buyer has agreed to the terms, which to go a step further implies that the buyer really should pay any bank related service fee for obtaining a cashiers check. Don't you agree?

I find it interesting that this clause is largely IGNORED by just about everybody. Why? I am not sure but I have a theory. My guess is that settlement attorneys and title agents tell people it's just not possible. Why would they say that? Well, most of them don't do a good job managing their escrow accounts. Why should that matter?

Well, next time a seller asks for a cashiers check, talk with the closing attorney or title agent. See if they willingly agree. If they try to avoid providing the service, dig a little deeper. I'll lay odds it's because they plan to disburse on the transaction before receiving good funds from the mortgage lender.

Yes, that means that they are issuing a check to the seller - and everyone else BTW - that isn't good. The money to back those checks isn't in their account! Can you blame the seller for wanting a cashiers check?

This is why everyone, EVERYONE, should get used to working with good funds.

We are in a period of instability in our real estate world. We can't tell which mortgage companies might go out of business. We can't tell which title companies and attorneys are doing a good job managing escrows. The only way to protect your interest in a transaction is to insist upon good funds and that means wires or cashiers checks.

When checks start bouncing you don't want to be at that party. So, yes, your seller can and should ask for a cashiers check. The ability and willingness of your closing company - attorney or title agent - to produce that check is a TEST. It tells you whether or not you are dealing with a reputable and capable provider.

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