Putting Out Fires: Classic Transaction Coordination Moments That’ll Make You Laugh (or Cry)
A transaction coordinator’s job is to make sure that closings move like clockwork…but sometimes, things just don’t go according to plan no matter what you do.
We reached out to our community real estate agents and TCs to hear their experiences putting out fires during closing and get their best advice for communicating with clients when you hit a bump in the road.
Let’s dive in!
It ain’t always smooth sailing 🛳
No matter how many times you tell a client not to touch their finances between offer acceptance and closing, sometimes it just doesn’t sink in.
But even when the transaction seas get rough, Marlena Saracin, director of transaction coordination for Jared James Enterprises, knows how to right the ship:
“As transaction coordinators, we are constantly putting out fires, and I would say that every transaction has at least one whether it is big or small.
The one that is the most memorable to me is when my agent’s client opened up 3 lines of credit for a Carnival Cruise one week prior to closing.
The lender called me to say there is a good chance we wouldn’t be able to close because of this, so right then I knew I was going to do everything in my power to get this closed. (Mind you, this closing had already been pushed twice.)
I asked the lender what we needed and got the information and documents from our client within the next couple of hours — and we got the clear to close two days later.
It was very stressful, but once we got the signed settlement statement I was more than thrilled. I sent my agent a huge ‘Congratulations!’ text with tons of emojis.”
And to the client who was buying a house and booking a cruise in the same week — go big or go home, buddy.
At the literal last minute ⏱
Talk about Johnny-on-the-spot — Kiara O’Brien, a transaction coordinator with ROVI Homes, shared her experience putting together a commission statement on the fly:
“Our in-house attorney was sitting at the closing table and realized that the commission statement had never been sent over.
I was able to gather all of the necessary information and put one together for her. Luckily our files are always organized and filled in with the proper financial information which allowed me to get this done for her in such a timely manner.”
All we can say is…Kiara’s team is lucky to have her!
What to do when there’s a transaction crisis
You can do everything in your power to make sure a closing goes perfectly, but it’s not always enough. Here’s how to make sure things go as smoothly as possible, even when they go a bit awry:
1. Be accessible
All our experts agree: Having an open line of communication with the client is hands down the most important thing during a transaction.
“I have found it to be most helpful when the client has access to our phone numbers,” Kiara explains. “Nowadays, everyone is always on their cell phone, so when providing a phone number to the client, we are just a phone call or text message away!”
2. Manage expectations
Things may not always go according to plan, but you know what’s worse? Not knowing what to expect in the first place. For clients, the closing may already be a confusing and overwhelming process. When there’s a wrench in the situation, it can feel even more stressful and out of control.
But agents and TCs can prevent this and create a better client experience by helping them understand what to expect.
As Paisley Vartanian, founder of Assistant.RealEstate, explains, “Setting expectations with clients for the various stages of a transaction — including the ‘if/when’ variables — can really help manage expectations and proactively mitigate fires throughout the process.”
3. Be open and honest
Honesty is truly the best policy — even when it’s bad news.
“I have learned that when you try to put out a fire while keeping them in the dark it is a lot harder for a couple of reasons,” Marlena explains. “Most of the time the client can help get the information needed to resolve the issue a lot quicker than I can. Also, when they are left in the dark and they find out afterward, they usually end up upset which causes another fire to put out.”
It’s also critical to remember that when you’re working on a transaction, everyone is part of the same team and you’re all working towards the same goal. Because of that, there’s really no such thing as over-communicating.
4. Leave emotion out of it
Real estate transactions may be run-of-the-mill for you, but for the buyers and sellers, they can be emotional experiences — whether the client is thrilled to move into a home or heartbroken to leave it. And if a problem arises, you’ve got to keep your cool.
“It’s important to trust your team of professionals and keep in transparent communication, while keeping confidence in your abilities and leaving the emotion out of it,” says Paisley.
5. Sometimes, you gotta let it burn
Of course, not all problems are solvable — and when that happens, do your best to minimize the damage. “Sometimes the fire needs to burn, and your job in these cases is to ensure it stays controlled and manageable,” Paisley explains.
Rather than beating yourself up, stay focused and positive. Next time will almost always be better.
Keep sparks from turning into fires
Let’s be honest: Closing hiccups are inevitable. But there are things you can do to keep little things from turning into massive mishaps.
That’s what experts like Paisley have learned while coordinating transactions — especially in the current market where buyer’s remorse is a bit more common than it used to be. Whether it’s a home that doesn’t appraise to purchase price or a non-contingent contract, she’s seen a lot of combustible moments.
Her strategy for preventing small sparks from turning into big fires?
Proactive education and transparent information.
“In these situations, buyer’s agents can proactively educate buyers to help protect their long-term vested interests, as well as the client relationships,” she says. “On the selling side, we do our best to protect our sellers with the accepted contract and paperwork, and support the transition through a new offer process.”
And it pays to be prepared:
“We also strive to provide the buyers with upfront seller disclosures, advisories, and reports to alleviate as much buyer's remorse as we can — even with non-contingent offers,” she explains. “Having it organized and ready for review at a moment's notice throughout the transaction for the managing broker and attorney review is essential.”
Paisley also relies on her transaction coordination system to track a granular history of each transaction and keep up the flow and approval of information and documents between parties.
Preclose helps make your closings (more) fireproof 🔥
With the Ultimate Client Experience in PrecloseGO!, TCs and agents can seamlessly share information with clients and other parties in a transaction — so you can ace communication, provide transparency throughout the process, deliver a ‘WOW’ experience, and prevent most fires from happening in the first place.