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Seller need not be present at the closing

May 26, 2017
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I own a duplex which I have a contract to sell in June, but I plan to be in Europe during the month of the closing. I do not want to postpone the closing, but I know I will need to sign originals like the warranty deed, plus I want to get my money right away. Do I need to postpone the closing?

- Samuel R.

Dear Samuel:

Real estate closings often occur without the parties being physically present. In fact, after we go to great lengths to confirm identities, almost half of our sellers never appear in Florida for closing. However, they do normally sign the original documents and return them to us by express mail.

I would recommend a few things. First, request that the law firm or title company prepare you a draft settlement statement showing the estimated costs of the closing to you, as well as expected net proceeds. Once you establish the charges are fair and correct, you could request to pre-sign documents, like the deed. The firm will then hold those documents in escrow, just like the deposit made by the buyer will be held as well. So long as the amounts do not change, you can provide the closing agent wiring instructions so that your funds can be sent to your bank account immediately upon closing.

If you are not comfortable pre-signing documents, you can appoint an attorney-in-fact to represent you in the transaction. This person can be an attorney, or a friend or family member. You would sign a Limited Power of Attorney that specifies your designee can sign any documents relating to the closing on your behalf. You will only want to give this power of attorney to someone you trust. That way, if documents do require last-minute revisions, your designee can sign on your behalf.

Finally, you could elect to have the documents signed in Europe while you are there, but this can take additional time from your vacation, and notaries or embassy officials can be expensive to utilize.

The good news is there are many options to proceed with the closing without your physical presence in Cape Coral. I hope you enjoy your trip.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for 28 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continued his service to the community through his chairmanship of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club KidsFest from 2011-2015, which provides a free day of fun and learning to thousands of Cape Coral families, and funds numerous scholarships. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 14 years, and they have four children together. Recently, he earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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