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Assign or Double Close: The $9,000 Question

By Jeffery S. Watson

In a conversation I had with a real estate investor regarding the differences between assignments and double closings, we talked about the cost associated with double closing a transaction. When you close two separate real estate transactions involving the same property within a short period of time, say 30-45 days apart, there are certain inescapable costs incurred twice. The title and escrow company or closing attorney is doing almost twice the amount of work.

The general rule of thumb I have given investors has been that if the assignment fee is $9,000 or less, then go ahead and assign the contract so there is only one closing and the assignee (the new buyer stepping into the shoes of the first buyer) completes the transaction with the title company or closing attorney. If, however, the assignment fee is greater than $9,000, then it’s time to examine if a double closing should occur.

In certain jurisdictions, that $9,000 number would change. For example, in Cook County, Illinois, I would recommend it be $15,000 or higher because of the extraordinarily high cost of closing a real estate transaction in that jurisdiction. In some states, many of my clients wisely choose to double close on all transactions due to the large spread between what they are buying it for and what they are ultimately able to resell it for.

In your market, the best thing to do to determine whether to assign or double close is to have conversations with various title and escrow companies or closing attorneys. Do some cost comparison as to the usual and customary fees and whether those fees can be negotiated down. Find out the basic, unavoidable costs of closing a real estate transaction.

Until you have that information readily known to you, you cannot make an intelligent decision as to whether you should assign or double close on a particular transaction. With that extra information, you become more effective in managing your real estate business.


Jeffery S. Watson

Attorney

Jeffery S. Watson is an attorney who has had an active trial and hearing practice for more than 27 years. As a trial lawyer, he has a unique perspective on real estate investing, wealth building and asset protection. He has tried over 20 civil jury trials and has handled thousands of contested hearings. Jeff has changed the law in Ohio 5 times via litigation or legislation:

Smith v. Rudler – 70 Ohio St.3d 397
In re Hugley – 629 N.E.2d 1136
Bahr v. Progressive Insurance – 2009-Ohio-6641
Snyder v. Snyder – 865 N.E.2d 944
H.B. 463 amending the Ohio Civil Rights Act

Jeff has also been a real estate investor since 1994, investing in both residential and commercial properties. He currently represents established real estate investors in commercial and residential matters when the transactions involve self-directed retirement accounts. As a frequent and popular guest speaker and teacher on stages and webinars, he is a recognized thought leader and innovator in the field of real estate investing, wealth building and self-directed retirement account transactions.

He is a nationally-recognized authority regarding regulatory concerns with wholesaling. He was the co-creator of the Option Contract method that revolutionized the short-sale flipping process. Thousands of investors have used documents created by Jeff to flip properties.

Jeff is general counsel to the National Real Estate Investors Association. Jeff is general counsel to and a cofounder of Realeflow, LLC, which made the Inc 500 list in 2011. He currently advises six different national organizations with a combined membership of over 250,000 investors.

From 2010 to present, Jeff has led lobbying efforts in Washington, DC on behalf of real estate investors which has brought about several changes in both government regulation and policy on distressed property purchases and resales. In 2014 and 2015, his efforts on Capitol Hill helped bring about change in the U.S. tax code and helped reinstate the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act. Since 2015, Jeff has worked to secure passage of the Seller Finance Enhancement Act.

Jeff’s efforts to secure reform in the real estate arena aren’t just on Capitol Hill. In his home state of Ohio, he has worked with the Ohio Division of Real Estate teaching on the legality of wholesaling.

He is a part owner of Venture Land Title II, LLC, and his law firm prepares deeds and other documents for two title companies. He is also legal counsel to a number of other organizations including Eagleville Bible Church, Inc.

Jeff is the author or co-author of 6 digital books:

  • “Understanding Self-directed Individual Retirement Accounts”
  • “A Guide to Private Lending”
  • “Short Sales Done Right – How to Profitably and Legally Navigate the Short Sale Jungle”
  • “Death of the Land Trust … in Short Sales”
  • “How to Hire Your ‘Dream Team’ ”
  • “Understanding the Foreclosure Process”

In addition to his digital books, Jeff authors an email newsletter twice a week and maintains a blog at WatsonInvested.com on investing, business and entrepreneurship which are read by thousands of successful investors.

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