Attorneys, lenders and cool shades

in Contributors/Real Estate by

By Will McCullough
I only buy cheap sunglasses. I mean really cheap. We’re talking single digits. The reason I only purchase the most inexpensive shades possible is because I have a track record, which spans decades, of quickly breaking them. As a matter of fact, when I broke my last pair a few months ago, I swore I wouldn’t buy any more unless I could find a seemingly unbreakable pair for under $20.
The reason I share the above information with you is because, about three weeks ago, Deena and I were walking along the shores of the Beaufort sandbar together, and she found a pair of beat up old sunglasses buried in the surf. Broken and covered in scratches, they looked like they’d been bouncing along the bottom of the river for months. With the exception of our boat, the sandbar was completely empty and, had it not been for the friends we had with us, the sunglasses in question would have quickly found their way into our trash.
“Those are Costa Del Mar sunglasses!” our friend exclaimed. For the record, this meant nothing to me. The only time I honestly get excited about fashion is when Marvel Comics releases a new superhero T-shirt. However, the catch here was that, while I’d personally never heard of “Costa Del Whatever,” my friend had. And, not only had he heard of these fancy high dollar shades, he knew that they came with a lifetime warranty for replacement against breakage. In a nutshell, he had detailed knowledge, based on personal interest and experience, about a topic that just might prove valuable to me.
In the world of real estate, we agents often find ourselves in a comparable situation. We’ll work with a buyer who has finally found the property of their dreams, made an offer, received a contract and then asked us the inevitable questions. What closing attorney should I use? What lender should I use?  What inspectors should I use?
Unfortunately, despite the fact that we local agents work with a wide range of supporting entities and definitely have personal opinions on who is best equipped to help you, the truth of the matter is that recommending a specific lender, attorney or inspector would be a violation of our ethics standards. We simply are not permitted to recommend, or attempt to sway you, in the direction of any secondary provider of real estate related services. In short, even though I know for a fact that the real estate lender, attorney or inspector equivalent of “Costa Del Mar” rocks, I can’t recommend them to you above the real estate equivalent of “Sunglasses-R-Us.”
What I can do, however, is give you a list of the general criteria I find important in selecting supporting entities for my own personal real estate transactions.
Within arms reach: For my personal transactions, I prefer to utilize an entity where I have a specific individual, with whom I have established a trusted personal relationship, as my point of contact. In short, I want to be able to walk into their office and speak to them face to face when I have a question or problem related to their facet of a transaction. While email may be a convenient form of communication, so is a “choke-slam.” I recommend keeping your ability and options to directly communicate open.
Experienced: I’m not just talking about overall years of experience as in the case of an entity that serves at a national level; I’m talking about someone who has served successfully in the hyper-local market as well.  Do they know the Beaufort market like the back of their hand as it relates to their aspect of real estate transactions? Are they respected in the community? Do they have past local clients who would recommend them? Don’t be afraid to ask.
Reachable: This one is easy. Your transaction is important to you. It should be equally important to those who guide you through a closing. If your initial calls or emails are not returned in a timely manner, you may want to shop around.  The last few years have been tough on agents, lenders, attorneys and inspectors alike.  Don’t settle for someone who does not display their appreciation for your business via timely responses.
Frankness: Despite misguided popular opinion otherwise, the customer is not always right. Sometimes they’re dead wrong and I personally want to utilize an attorney, lender or inspector who can, in a tactful manner, explain to me that my preconceptions are incorrect or unrealistic when that’s the case. A good supporting entity exists to serve your best interests in a transaction, even in the rare cases when their opinion of “your best interests” is hard to hear.
In closing, while your agent will likely give you a list of several lenders, attorneys and inspectors to choose from, it’s your responsibility to find the entity that fits your scenario the best.
And speaking of “fit,” as it turns out, Costa Del Mar sunglasses not only fit well, but coincidentally, only cost about $19 shipping and handling to be replaced/repaired by the factory!

Will and Deena McCullough of Lowcountry Real Estate can be reached directly at 843-441-8286 or via email at RealEstate@BeaufortSC.net.