If you’ve ever purchased or refinanced a home, then you know that you’re required to attend the “closing”. For those of you who may have not yet attended a closing, it’s when you sign all of the documents such as the note and mortgage. The money goes across the table from the mortgage company (or bank) to the seller.
These days, most states have “escrow closings”, which are nice because the buyer and the seller attend the closing at different times to avoid seeing too much of the other person’s business (how much they owed on the home, etc.). In Kentucky, we have “attorney closings”. Loans in Kentucky do not have to be ‘closed’ by an attorney but an attorney must sign off on all the documents so it has become the custom in Kentucky that lawyers just go ahead and do the closing anyway.
Years ago, I took a job running the mortgage division of a bank. The company I had previously worked for was remarkably well managed, well run, with great teamwork and a real sense of the customer, internal and external. I walked into the new place thinking all companies ran like my previous firm.
I was wrong.
Right off the bat, I was faced with a big challenge that I had discussed thoroughly with the CEO that hired me.
At my previous mortgage company, I had about 20 lawyers approved to close loans. The tradition in Kentucky (and numerous other states as well) is to try to use attorneys that the realtors and builders are comfortable with and have a good business relationship with. This process gave the customer the path of least resistance.
The new company had an ‘in-house’ attorney that handled 90% of the closings. This attorney was located in the same building as I was. The majority of the builder and realtor clients that I brought with me had preferred closing agents that they had used regularly for a good while. They trusted them. And in my previous setting, I accommodated those relationships. All my closing attorneys were indemnified by title companies and did everything well.
However, now I was dealing with a mortgage division of a bank, under the same roof as the in-house legal team. Reluctantly, begrudgingly, I committed to send as much business as I could to the in-house law firm. In this area it is tough to ween real estate professionals off the attorney they are used to dealing with.
The very first week I call downstairs to the in-house folks to schedule a closing. The first wave of communication I was greeted with was hold music. This was a new experience for me in the mortgage business . I had been accustomed to law offices jumping all over themselves when I called to schedule a closing.
After I hold for a bit, the (seasoned?) veteran of the law firm returns to the phone and I tell him that I want to schedule a closing. His awkward silence was deafening . . . the complete opposite from the thankful and grateful oratory from the other closing offices.
To break the silence, I awkwardly announce, “I want to close the Smith loan next Tuesday at 1:30.”
The veteran responded, “we do not close loans at 1:30.”
Startled by this new and never experienced response, I asked “why?”
The ‘veteran’ said, “Our closing calendar only goes by the hour, 10-12 and 1-3.”
That was the beginning of the end for me and the in-house veterans down in the basement. When you let the design of a calendar dictate your customer commitment, you are in for, sooner, or later, (in this case MUCH later) a wakeup call. Or more like a wakeup bomb.
In today’s business world with today’s technology you better be ready to accommodate your customer anytime, anywhere.
A 6 hour calendar won’t work anymore
Even if you’re in the basement!