Here are some tips for selecting a settlement representative:
- Compare apples with apples. Ethical agents are clear about their fees and don’t confuse them with disbursements (out-of-pocket expenses) that you have to pay in any event.
- Good settlement agencies advertise their fees upfront.
- If the first thing you’re asked for is the sale/purchase price of the property, you can bet the quote will be based on value of the transaction, not the cost of delivering the settlement service.
- The work involved in a settlement is the same irrespective of the property value.
- Legitimate disbursements include title search fees, rates enquiries and bank charges. If you’re selling, your real estate agent will be entitled to a commission. If you’re buying, you’ll have to pay government transfer duty and transfer registration charges both calculated on sliding scales.
- Check that quoted disbursements are the only amounts that the agent is actually paying out and don’t include extra handling or service fees.
- Postage, telephone calls, photocopying, faxes and settlement attendance are really business overheads rather than disbursements and should be included in the settlement fee. Flat Rate Settlements does not charge extra for these items.
- Check out the testimonials. Trusted settlement agents post feedback from satisfied customers on their websites. You may be surprised how few you find.