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Who Reads Those Loan Docs Anyway?

October 3rd, 2008 by Thomas Besore

Article reprinted with the permission of Thomas Besore.

Please read this post, draw your own preliminary conclusions, and then follow the link to another article on this subject.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  See if your conclusions change after following the link at the end of the post.

There are two essential sets of documents in most real estate transactions.  First, of course, is the written contract itself.  This contract ranks among the most significant legal papers in a person’s life.  Next to a divorce settlement, the real estate contract is probably the most used legal document in most American’s lives.  As a matter of course, we like to recommend that clients retain legal counsel to negotiate sticking points like tax apportionment and also to generally understand the essential terms of the contract.  If the tax apportionment or other aspect of the contract is not right, significant financial damage can result.

The second essential set of documents in a real estate transaction has to do with the loan.  This includes the promissory note itself and the security interest – the mortgage.  Whose job is it to advise the client on the small print in the loan?  Is the real estate agent to handle this?  Most certainly not!  How about the mortgage broker?  Nope.  Not her job either.  The broker simply brings the lender and the client together, outlining the important figures of the loan.   Among the first recommendations of the broker ought to be that the client should retain counsel to help her understand the nature of the loan rights and obligations.

Anybody who tells you that the mortgage broker ought to counsel the client on the loan paperwork needs a lesson in licensing, ethics and the practice of law.  How can a broker, whose compensation depends on the closing of the loan, pretend to counsel the client on that very loan?   Last time I checked, most states laws say you need something called a law license to advise a client of these contractual matters.  Second, every competent attorney knows that you can represent either the lender or the borrower, but never both!  It’s the client’s independent attorney who ought to counsel the client about the small print, the elements of the promissory note and mortgage instrument.  I will argue that it is the failure of borrowers to secure adequate counsel on loans that is largely responsible for the current mortgage crisis gripping our country.

How many lawyers do you know who properly advise their clients on the loan documents?  Isn’t it true that the borrower’s first exposure to the promissory note and the mortgage instrument is during closing?  Aren’t most closings now accomplished by paralegals with the buyer’s attorney showing up at the end just to give the final okay?  When a lawyer charges a fire-sale rate for a real estate “closing”, what level of service are people expecting to occur?  How can we as professionals encourage our clients to engage the necessary experts (and compensate them appropriately) to assist in fully understanding these essential elements of the real estate transaction?  After developing your own conclusions, follow this link to another story on this very issue.  Then return here and leave a comment if you wish!

Here’s that link. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thomas G. Besore
Attorney at Law
540 N. Lake Shore Drive #315
Chicago, Illinois  60611

(312) 265-6272 Telephone
(312) 276-8558 Facsimile
www.besore.com

Real Estate, Estate Planning and Contractual Matters
Corporate and Individual Representation
Serving Chicago and the Suburbs

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