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What is a Settlement Agent?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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Also known as a closing agent or a conveyancer, a settlement agent is the individual or entity that manages the completion of a transaction between a seller and a buyer. The main role of the settlement agent is to make sure the transaction proceeds in a manner that is in compliance with both the terms agreed upon by the two parties, as well as any local laws and regulations that are relevant to the transaction. An agent of this type may handle a wide range of transactions, or specialize in particular types of transactions related to specific types of purchases.

One of the most common examples of a settlement agent is found in the real estate industry. In this setting, the primary function of the agent is to accept the payment from the buyer of the property, and convey that payment to the seller. The agent also oversees the transfer of the ownership of the real estate to the buyer, ensuring that all documents are prepared according to prevailing regulations, and that they are filed with the proper government departments or agencies. Agents who manage this type of settlement must be well acquainted with all policies and procedures that have to do with the purchase and sale of real estate, including any upcoming changes and the dates those changes will go into effect.

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Some of the duties that a real estate settlement agent may perform include examining the current titles to the property and making sure they are accurate, then overseeing the creation of the new title that will be awarded to the buyer. The agent may also be responsible for handling the pro-rating of any property fees that apply to the year in which the transaction took place. In just about all situations, the settlement agent is responsible for notifying probate offices and other agencies of the particulars of the transaction, and making sure the new deed is recorded properly.

The services of a settlement agent are also commonly employed with investment opportunities. Here, the agent manages the process of receiving payment from the buyer and making sure the ownership of the stock, bond, or other security is updated to reflect the change. A settlement agent will also work with personnel at each brokerage house involved in the transaction to maker sure the proper debits and credits are made to the accounts of both the buyer and the seller. When hard copies of the securities is required, the agent may also oversee the delivery of those documents to the buyer.

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