Buyers and sellers often ask: Who pays the Transaction Coordinator in Real Estate? The answer often depends on who the Transaction Coordinator (TC) represents.
Over the last few years, many real estate agents and brokers charge a transaction coordination fee in addition to their commissions. Is this necessary?
Let’s explore what a TC does in order to establish the necessity.
What is a Transaction Coordinator?
The complexity of many laws, rules, and regulations requiring specific legal documents and forms creates a mound of paperwork to complete a real estate purchase. Real estate agents used to obtain and organize the required paperwork when it was simpler. Nowadays, the paperwork is so great that a specialized profession called a Transaction Coordinator (TC) emerged from all the confusion.
The TC helps the buyer, seller, the real estate agents, the lenders, and even the escrow company with gathering and organizing all the paperwork to complete a transaction.
Escrow officers receive the legal documents and the buyer’s funds. However, they are not required to chase them down.
Years ago, agents spent lots of time tracking down documents from the various parties and followed up to make sure the escrow officer received them. Then, it just became too time-consuming when agents must also prospect for new clients, show properties, negotiate contracts, attend meetings, along with marketing their services.
Thus, the creation of the TC to assist all of the parties in a real estate transaction too busy to track down documents.
The Duties of a Transaction Coordinator
The TC performs many duties to assist with a real estate purchase. These include:
- Verifying that all contracts (lease or purchase agreements) include the required addenda.
- Verifying that the contracts contain the required initials and signatures of the parties.
- Sending copies of the contracts to the buyer, seller, agents, and the lender.
- Filling out commission disbursement forms.
- Opening a file with the escrow or title company.
- Reviewing the title search.
- Creating a summary sheet with every parties’ contact information, the full property address, and property photos,
- Creating an online transaction management file where agents and their clients access online to monitor the transaction.
- Uploading documents for shared views.
- Sending upcoming deadline reminders to the parties throughout the process.
- Coordinating with the escrow company, agents, and lenders as needed.
- Ensuring all parties get the required documents.
- Verifying that all of the seller’s disclosure documents occurred.
- Coordinating with the escrow company through the final closing.
Who Does the Transaction Coordinator Benefit?
Reading all of the above duties demonstrates how every party to the real estate transaction benefits. It only takes one missing document, or one missing signature, an error in a contract, or a missed deadline to bring the entire transaction to a halt.
It’s easy to disrupt a transaction. The importance for the success of the closing depends on someone to coordinate all of the paperwork.
Therefore, the TC benefits everyone participating in a real estate transaction.
Who Should Pay the Transaction Coordinator in a Real Estate Transaction?
While the TC benefits everyone, not all parties contribute to the payment of the TC’s fee. Here are some examples:
A For Sale By Owner (FSBO) seller doesn’t use agents. One disadvantage for a FSBO is that all of his/her required documents must be prepared and delivered to the escrow officer by the seller. Most FSBO sellers don’t what disclosures are required.
Hiring a TC solves that problem. The TC informs the FSBO what legal documents and disclosure forms will be required to close the transaction. In addition, the TC tracks down all parties for their required documents and delivers them to the escrow officer. Then explains the HUD-1 Settlement Statement to the FSBO and obtains the required signature.
In this case, the FSBO should pay all of the TC’s fees.
Two scenarios often occur requiring a buyers agent to seek the services of a TC:
- The agent representing the buyer may need the assistance of a TC. Especially with first-time buyers who do not know what documents need a signature or what they mean.
- Out of town buyers need additional time and attention that the buyer’s agent may not be able to provide. The TC takes up the slack and communicates with the buyer to coordinate all documents, inspections, post-inspection problems, meeting with the lender, and doing all of the running around on behalf of the buyer.
In these scenarios, the buyer should pay the TC’s full fee.
Some brokerages maintain an in-house or a “call when needed” TC to help the agents with coordinating all of the paperwork and working with the escrow officer.
The 100% commission agent typically pays the brokerage for the TC’s services. In traditional split commission brokerages, the broker may pay the TC’s fees or charge the agent a “transaction coordination” fee to offset the broker’s payment.
In this scenario, the broker either pays the TC in full or the 100% commission agent pays the full fee; or the traditional agent pays for all or part of the TC’s fee.
Can an Agent or a Brokerage Charge Clients a TC Fee?
There are no laws or National Association of Realtors rules preventing an agent or a brokerage from charging a client a separate TC fee. As long as the fee is clearly disclosed in the agency representation agreement between the client and the brokerage as a fee the client pays at closing.
Controversial: However, many individual agents across the country personally feel this constitutes “unethical” or “nickel and dime fees” towards clients. Such opinions prevailed in one real estate forum in 2011. Another real estate professionals’ forum commenters agreed in 2015. In addition, a mortgage website called them “junk fees” in 2018.
Can a Buyer’s Agent Charge the Seller a TC Fee?
Since a buyer’s agent only represents the buyer and not the seller, a TC hired by the buyer or the agent fee should only be paid by the buyer.
In addition, unless the listing agreement specifically states that the seller will pay for a TC’s services, the seller cannot be obligated to pay the TC’s fee. If the TC fee shows up in the Settlement Statement as a seller’s expense, the seller has the right to challenge the expenditure.
Who pays the Transaction Coordinator in Real Estate?
It depends upon circumstances like:
- If it’s a condition in the listing agreement that the seller pays.
- Every FSBO who hires a TC must pay the fee.
- Buyers and buyer’s agents hiring a TC must pay the fee.
- Brokerage in-house TC paid solely by the broker or paid by its 100% commission agents or traditional fee agents on a per transaction basis.
Who pays the TC fee also depends upon other situations like:
- Brokerages charging sellers and/or buyers a TC fee only if their representation agreements clearly specify the fee and requires their payment.
- Buyer’s agents can’t force a seller to pay the TC fee unless the listing agreement with the seller’s agent requires it.
- The person hiring a private TC must pay the fee.
While a TC benefits all parties to a transaction, not all of them are required to pay all or part of the fee.
Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger
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