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Real Estate Transaction Checklist

Real Estate Transaction Checklist

Transaction Coordinator checklists are an important tool for savvy real estate professionals. Checklists ensure that nothing is overlooked in the transaction process, and the best real estate transaction checklists are highly detailed. Checklists differ depending on what side of the transaction you are on, so we’ve included both to cover as much ground as possible. 

Real estate requirements differ by state as well, so transaction checklists will differ depending on those requirements. For example, some states don’t require the use of a real estate attorney for closing and others do. Checklists will also vary depending on each brokerage or real estate team’s approach to transactions. The following information is merely a guideline to help you develop your own checklist. Feel free to adapt it to suit your needs and scale it to make it more relevant to your clients.

Why Having a Real Estate Transaction Coordinator Checklist is Important

Real estate transaction checklists are beneficial to everyone involved. Agents are able to dedicate more time to other processes, resulting in a higher ROI since some of the more tedious tasks are being delegated. Transaction checklists don’t replace transaction coordinators, but they are even better than having a TC alone, because the checklist provides a timeline of when each task will be completed. Check-ins with the TC are less necessary, which further frees up a realtor’s time for other tasks. 

With a quick glance at the transaction coordination timeline, agents can tell what stage the TC is on and when to expect the next update. Transaction checklists provide a systematic way to track the progress of a transaction and are helpful to everyone involved: realtor, inspector, title company, closing attorney, TC and client alike. Since home ownership is still steadily on the rise (at 64.3% in January 2020 and predicted to reach 66.8% this year), realtors should be doing everything they can to save time while ensuring that every step of the transaction process is seamless. 

Real estate transaction coordinator checklists should include deadlines, when to check-in with the client, and a detailed idea of which tasks are assigned to whom and when they need to be completed. Doing so ensures that tasks are completed prior to deadlines while keeping the client updated and making the process crystal clear for everyone involved. “There are many deadlines that must be met,” Texas real estate agent Sandy Petermann-Williams said. Failure to do so “can result in a dead deal,” which is why it’s important that realtors meet their deadlines.

Steps for Creating a Transaction Coordinator Checklist

Are You Working with the Seller or the Buyer? 

Realtors representing sellers will need a checklist that’s reflective of tasks needed from pre-listing to closing. Realtors representing buyers will want a checklist that begins when the house goes under contract. Keep in mind what role you play in each type of transaction, and plan for the roles of other members of your real estate team. For example, the home inspector and other team members who deal with the inspection process and follow-up should be featured on the checklist to ensure that everything is done in a timely manner. 

Break Down the Transaction Process into Stages

When you’ve decided what kinds of transactions you’ll be doing, you need to break them down into smaller transaction stages. This process will help you remain highly organized as you come up with your transaction checklist, ensuring that you overlook nothing. 

If you’re working on listings for the property, see if any of these stages apply to your transaction:

  • Preparation for the pre-listing appointment
  • Pre-listing home inspection
  • Collecting information from the seller (homeowner’s association info or anything else)
  • Collecting signatures for the listing agreement
  • Installing yard signs to indicate the home is for sale
  • Scheduling an appointment to take photos of the property
  • Property data input into the MLS
  • Digital marketing 
  • Offline marketing

 

If you’re working from contract to closing, identify if these stages apply to your transaction:

  • Email introductions
  • Tracking earnest money deposits
  • Mortgage information
  • Ordering an appraisal
  • Closing
  • Home inspection
  • Wood-destroying insect inspection
  • Surveying the property
  • Home insurance
  • Flood insurance
  • Home warranty
  • HOA information
  • Repairs
  • Seller move out
  • Septic tank inspection
  • Municipality inspection
  • Radon inspection
  • Well inspection
  • Utility connection
  • Closing emails
  • Compliance

Break Each Stage into Tasks and Create a Timeline

Once you’ve got it broken down into stages, break each stage into separate tasks and assign those tasks to specific people on your team. This provides clarity to everyone on your team, both in terms of whose task it is and when the task should be completed by. Remember to follow up with team members to ensure that everything is done in a timely manner, and continually update your client to let them know how things are progressing.

On the seller side, preparation for the pre-listing appointment can be broken down into these tasks:

 

  • Contact the property owner and make an appointment with the seller for a presentation
  • Send confirmation to seller of the listing appointment and confirm
  • Go over pre-appointment questions
  • Research currently available comparable properties (Competitive Market Analysis)
  • Research trends and sales from MLS and public record databases
  • Research comparable days on the market
  • Research the property tax history
  • Review the property’s public record info for ownership and type of deed
  • Check the property’s public record info for lot size and dimensions
  • Research and verify the legal description
  • Check the property’s land use coding and deed restrictions
  • Research property’s current use and zoning
  • Determine whether there’s a need for a lead-based paint disclosure
  • Prepare the market analysis to establish a broker opinion of value
  • Prepare the listing presentation package
  • Perform a “curb appeal assessment”
  • Verify public school zoning and discuss the impact of school districts on market value
  • Review the list to ensure all steps have been completed

 

For the buyer’s side, securing an earnest money deposit can be broken into these tasks:

  • Research the market to determine how much earnest money is typically given (1%-5% of the purchase price, sometimes 10% for builders)
  • Find a reputable, local title company to hold the earnest money deposit (or choose one you already know)
  • Confirm the amount for the earnest money deposit and explain earnest money to the buyer before you proceed
  • If buyer is working with a construction company/builder, advise them to consult with an attorney before providing earnest money to a construction company
  • Work on a contingency plan (contingent on appraisal, home inspection, obtaining financing, selling their current home)
  • Be sure the buyer understands the terms of the contract
  • Get signatures on the earnest money contract
  • Have the buyer(s) write the check for the earnest money deposit
  • Deliver the earnest money at the time of the offer
  • Write up a purchase agreement stating which entity will hold the earnest money (escrow, title company, etc)

 

Comprehensive Transaction Checklist for Real Estate Sellers

Transaction checklists can be fairly basic or they can be incredibly detailed. For an example of this, here are some possible tasks that would be needed from contract to close. 

Offer and Contract Tasks

  • Verify that the buyer’s broker and salesperson are properly licensed
  • Get a signed and dated verification of the escrow deposit delivery
  • Get a signed offer to purchase from the buyer
  • Give the buyer a copy of all forms used in making the offer
  • Evaluate the offer and prepare a net sheet on each, to make comparisons
  • Review offers, contract forms, addendas, and misc forms – explain merits and weaknesses of each one
  • Contract the buyer’s broker to review the buyer’s qualifications and discuss the offer
  • Obtain a good faith estimate from the buyer’s lender for the target purchase price and review
  • Obtain a copy of the buyer’s pre-approval letter from a lender
  • Provide credit report information to the seller if the property will be seller-financed
  • Negotiate offers and counter offers
  • Prepare and convey counter offers, acceptance, and/or amendments  
  • Complete offer to purchase and all addenda
  • Deliver the contract to the buyer’s broker and if there are none, to the buyer
  • Verify all parties have signed the final offer and that all necessary documents are available
  • Provide copies of the contract and addenda to closing attorneys, title companies, lenders (and all parties involved)
  • Record and deposit the earnest money with an escrow agent or deliver it to a closing agent and obtain a receipt
  • Disseminate “under-contract showing restrictions” as seller requests
  • Inform seller and buyer how to handle additional offers to purchase submitted between the effective date of contract and closing
  • Place copies of the signed contract in the office file
  • Change status in MLS to “Sale pending”
  • Update listing file to show “Sale pending”

Loan Process Tasks

  • Contact buyer’s lender weekly to verify processing is on track
  • Follow buyer’s loan processing through to the underwriter
  • Relay final approval of buyer’s loan application to the seller
  • Coordinate with the lender on discount points being locked in with dates
  • Confirm verifications of deposit and buyer’s employment
  • Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program

Home Inspection Tasks

  • Provide the buyer with home inspection company options
  • Coordinate the buyer’s professional home and termite inspection with the seller
  • Send a vacancy checklist to the seller if the property is vacant
  • If property is vacant, arrange for power and water to be turned on
  • Review the home inspection report and discuss any issues  
  • Enter the home inspection report into the listing file
  • Order septic system, well, or mold inspections
  • Review the septic system, well, or mold reports and note any possible impact on the sale
  • Provide a copy of the reports to lender and seller
  • Verify seller compliance with home inspection report and repair requirements
  • Recommend or assist sellers with identifying trustworthy contractors to perform repairs
  • Get copies of repair bills showing seller made required repairs
  • Coordinate entry into the property and buyer’s review of completed repairs

Appraisal Tasks

  • Schedule the appraiser to enter the property
  • Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to the appraiser
  • Follow up on the appraisal
  • Discuss the appraisal report and options if the report is different from the contract/purchase price
  • Enter appraisal completion into the listing file

 

Closing Preparation Tasks

  • Distribute the signed contracts to all the parties involved (buyer, seller, title company, lender, broker, closing agent)
  • Coordinate the closing process with brokers, lenders, and closing agents
  • Confirm with a closing agent that all the title problems have been resolved
  • Confirm that the seller has the correct Power of Attorney or trust documents
  • Schedule and conduct the buyer’s final walk through with the brokers
  • Confirm with a closing agent that all tax, HOA, utilities and other applicable pro-rations have been resolved
  • Obtain final closing figures from the closing agent
  • Look over the closing figures on the HUD statement to verify the accuracy of preparation
  • Forward verified closing figures and confirm that brokers have received and reviewed them
  • Confirm that brokers have received the title insurance commitment
  • Provide the homeowner warranty for availability at closing
  • Recommend a courtesy closing agent for an absentee seller
  • Forward closing documents to the absentee buyer
  • Review closing documents with the seller and closing agent 
  • Provide the earnest money deposit check from the escrow account to the closing agent. If the closing agent is holding the escrow funds, make sure it appears on the final HUD
  • Coordinate closing with the seller’s next purchase and resolve timing issues
  • Confirm that collected funds from the buyer are available for closing
  • Confirm that all parties have all the forms and info needed for closing
  • Confirm location, date and time of closing and notify all parties
  • Explain filing for homestead exemption
  • Verify transfer of all keys (house, mailbox, HOA/community, etc)
  • Close out the listing

Real Estate Transaction Checklist Templates

If you’d like to have an idea of what a transaction coordinator checklist should look like but you’d rather not put a real estate transaction checklist together on your own, you can always check out real estate transaction checklist templates online. This sale contract checklist isn’t very detailed but gives you a basic overview of what the seller side looks like. This closing checklist is for sellers’ agents as well, and is a more detailed breakdown of how the closing process should go. 

Transaction Checklists and Transaction Coordinators

For those who have doubts about the merit of bringing on a transaction coordinator, real estate transaction checklists with deadlines are a fantastic way to get started without feeling like you’re leaving everything to the transaction coordinator. You’re making it as simple as possible for the transaction coordinator to follow along and complete the tasks in a timely manner. Perhaps you think, “I don’t really need a transaction coordinator, though – I can do it all myself!” We implore you to reconsider. You may be familiar with Ben Caballero – a man who holds the Guinness World Record for being the most productive sales agent in the world. Having sold 4,799 homes in 2017 alone, he knows a thing or two about real estate. His secret? Specialization. “The key is to always have focus. Specializing is key to real estate success.” 

If you feel like you want to take the leap into specialization, go ahead and take a look at the numbers to see how much time (and money) you can save by using a transaction coordinator. If you’re already convinced, sign up for a demo to see how Close Concierge can help you spend less time on closing!

 

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