Question: The closing on my recent purchase was conducted late on a Friday afternoon. The seller and I performed all of our obligations, however, the attorney told us the registry of deeds had closed and he was unable to record the deed until Monday. He refused to give the seller her check until then, and as a result, she refused to give me the keys. My weekend moving plans, and rental truck deposit were lost. Also, my family and I had to sleep in an empty apartment for the weekend. Should this have happened?
Answer: With proper scheduling, this should not have happened. A real estate closing is a multi-level transaction which is not complete until the deed is recorded. Every closing attorney religiously knows the hours of the registry of deeds, in order to avoid such a problem.
Scheduling a purchase closing requires extra attention, in order to anticipate matters surrounding the parties’ moving plans and recording availability. Closing late on a Friday may have been more convenient for everyone, but brought negative implications which should have been explained.
Though the closing attorney created the problem with poor scheduling, he acted properly by not releasing the seller’s check until recording. Further, the seller acted reasonably, although without compassion, by denying access to the home until she received her money. Assuming she had previously moved out, she could have allowed you occupancy of the home and charged you rent.
Unfortunately, you paid the price for this error with your inconvenience and lost deposit, for which compensation in unlikely. In the future, demand that you close early in the day at the registry of deeds, where you can record immediately after the transaction.
Attorney James Haroutunian is a Billerica native who runs the Haroutunian Law Office at 630 Boston Road, Billerica, specializing in real estate law including landlord/tenant and estate planning. James invites questions from local real estate agents as well as consumers at 978-671-0711, www.prioritylaw.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.