GAR Changes on Closing Costs – Part I Wiring and Mail Fees

The Georgia Association of Realtors (GAR) provides a standard purchase and sale agreement for licensed brokers and agents to use. The form is tweaked almost every year.  One of the changes for 2023 is a clarification on closing cost. Page one of the GAR purchase and sale contract lists the total Seller’s contribution towards closing costs. This made it easy to list on the closing statement, and was straight-forward (or so it seemed). Yet many closing attorneys started charging sellers additional fees for wires or other random fees in addition to the seller’s contribution towards closing costs. Often, the reason given was that the seller should pay for any fees the attorney charges for sending a loan payoff, or wiring funds to the seller.  

The 2023 GAR contract has been changed to state that in additional to the seller contributing towards closing costs, the seller shall pay the closing attorney’s fees for any loan or lien pay off, and pay any fee to handle and deliver seller proceeds from the sale. Closing attorneys charge anywhere from $25 to $150 per wire or payoff. Closing attorneys often charge more than the actual wire fee charged by the bank. A few hundred dollars is often not noticed when selling a house for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it is an unnecessary fee. There are definitely instances where the attorney is required to send a check overnight or has an unusual number of payoffs to send, and that should be an extra cost. We realize that most real estate purchases will require us to send funds to the seller, and probably one or two mortgage lenders .  At Origin Title, we do not charge sellers a fee for wiring their proceeds, or for wiring funds to pay off a mortgage. This service is included in our settlement fee.    

John C. Bennett is a real estate closing attorney and owner of Origin Title and Escrow, Inc.. Since 2003, Origin Title has handled real estate transactions – purchases, refinances, reverse mortgages – quickly and professionally. There will be no surprises, nothing misunderstood. Title searches are thorough and well-reasoned, to avoid unpleasant surprises later down the road. Calculate your closing costs in Georgia or Florida using our calculator or contact Origin Title using this form.