Who should be at the sign off or closing in Silicon Valley?

See you thereReal estate practices vary from state to state and in the case of California, even from one region to the next.  How the settlement or closing appointment goes is one of them.

Many of my east coast friends and relatives have told me that when they close on realty transactions, everyone goes to the same table – buyers, sellers, the attorneys for each and the real estate agents for each.  Not only do they all meet in one room to finalize the deal, but when it’s over, the property transfers title right then.

Not so in Silicon Valley!

Here in northern California, buyers and sellers sign off separately, and almost never are lawyers involved.  The closing or sign off happens 5-7 days prior to the deed being recorded and title transferring.  The buyers often have both their real estate agent and their lender present to answer any questions.  This final paperwork is most often done at a title company’s office.  Also for the seller, it’s usually at the title company and the agent is present.

What happens on the day of closing, then?  There are two main events that take place on the day that escrow closes and the real estate sale is finalized.  First, the title company gets the deeds recorded with the County of Santa Clara.  One employee goes to the county recorder’s office and gets each deed recorded for that company’s closings.  When finished, he or she phoned the branches and confirms that recording did take place.  The escrow officer or assistant will then call (sometimes email) the Realtors or licensees involved and tell them “we have confirmation – we are on record”.  The agents, in turn, notify the buyer(s) and seller(s).   The second thing that happens is that the new buyer gets keys to the home!  This is true even if there is a rent back, since the buyer is now a landlord, even if it’s just for a little while.



Do Lots of Research Before Deciding to do a Short Sale on your Silicon Valley Home

Homeowners who are in financial trouble with their property sometimes wait too long to seek help, and then cannot mitigate the situation with a loan modification, a short sale or a deed in leiu of foreclosure. They wait so long and miss so many payments that significant harm is done.  The embarrassment, the sense of failure, the significant feelings of loss can keep home owners from reaching out for advice and guidance. This is happening on a big scale and is happening within my own close circle of loved ones too.

Recently a friend of mine, with whom I’ve done several transactions, informed me that she’d done a short sale with her home through a local attorney and hadn’t wanted to bother me with it, though she knew I’d have been willing to help.  (She was right: I would have.)

I was stunned on several counts, most of all that we hadn’t talked before she did it; I truly think it matters tremendously to do a good amount of information-gathering, and talking with trusted sources, before pulling the trigger on something big like this.  But very often, people become more private when under financial pressure. (Others are virtually in denial.)  This really just makes things worse since they may make huge decisions with insufficient information.

Why Good Realtors Refer Buyers and Sellers to Lawyers and Tax Professionals for Some Questions

There are a number of things which are related to the purchase and sale of real estate which require the professional guidance of those other than your Realtor, namely a legal or tax professional.  This sometimes surprises consumers.  Once I was discussing one of these areas with a prospective client and she felt quite frustrated and exclaimed, “you know the answer, you just won’t tell me!”  That was many years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it.  Many Silicon Valley home buyers and home sellers assume that they’ll never need to talk to a tax or legal professional, and if advised to do so, may balk.

So let’s talk about it.

In other states, such as New York, attorneys are very involved in real estate transactions. Here in California, though, that’s not the case most of the time.  We call on CPAs and lawyers when there’s a problem or a question which is beyond the real estate licensee’s scope.  I’ll provide a few examples.

Holding Title: Probably the most frequent question I get that I’m not allowed (or qualified) to answer is about how people should hold title when buying a home.  The purchase agreements we use (both CAR and PRDS) lay it out best and puts it in bold so that consumers don’t miss it:


Most title companies have a nifty little chart that summarizes the pros and cons of the various ways in which people can hold title.  But neither the escrow officer nor the real estate agent can tell you what’s best for you.  We know what’s most common, but that doesn’t mean it is best for you and your particular set of circumstances.  So talk to a CPA or talk to a lawyer (or both) if you do your research and are at all unsure of what to choose! (Old Republic Title has a summary of the most common ways to hold title in a downloadable pdf file, which you can access via this link.)

John N. Pope, Obituary

Obituary: San Jose attorney John N Pope, Jr (2-27-1930 to 6-29-2008)

Professional Portrait John N Pope Jr attorney at law in San Jose CAAfter a long, valiant battle against lung disease and congestive heart failure, my father, John Pope, died Sunday, June 29th at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara. This was somewhat unexpected as recently he had been improving and was downgraded out of the ICU and was awaiting a bed in a yet lower level of the hospital when it seems he got a severe stroke late on Saturday. Prior to his seven weeks there, mostly in the ICU, he had lived at Belmont Village in San Jose, where he had many friends.
John grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and graduated from Princeton University in 1952 with a BA in history. He married Patricia Buckley in Santa Clara County in August 1954. They were married for 42 years, until her death in 1996. After serving in the US Army in South Korea for nearly two years, he studied at Santa Clara University School of Law and received a license to practice law in January 1959.He had a private practice in San Jose, doing family law, wills, trusts, estates, and employment law. His law practice included “pro bono” work and he served as a “Judge Pro Tem” as well.

Pat and John PopeJohn and Pat raised three children in Santa Clara and Saratoga. John was very supportive of Pat’s real estate career, which she began in 1956 (when very few women were selling real estate).


John was a creative person who enjoyed delighting young children, particularly with cartooning or doing “magic tricks” involving chocolate coins. He painted a myriad of toy soldiers and enjoyed an extensive collection the sale of which helped to support him in his retirement. He was known within the family for the villages and train sets he set up under the tree at Christmas, which looked amazingly similar to his hometown of Morristown in winter.


Spirituality and his Catholic faith were of utmost importance to him, and it infused the way he worked, raised his family, and met challenges in his life. He had been a very active member of Alcoholic Anonymous, and he credited the support of the group and the grace of God for his 29 years of sobriety.


John’s passions were travel, history, politics, family and faith. When the family was young, John and Pat made many frequent trips to the east coast to see the Pope relatives. The travels later expanded to include Europe, Great Britain, central America, the Virgin Islands, and elsewhere.


John leaves behind 3 children: Stephen Pope (Patti) of Boston, MA, Mary Pope-Handy (Jim) of Los Gatos, CA, and Barbara Pope (Tom) of Greenfield, MA and 7 grandchildren: Michael Pope, Kathleen Pope, Stephen Pope, Brian Handy, Clair Handy, Daniel Morse and Taryn Rose Morse. He is survived also by his sister, Helen Holly (Bo) of Dover, NJ, her children Joan Guarino and John Holly (Meredith) and Joan’s two children, Alexandre and Gabriella. He is also mourned by his brothers-in-law, Fr. Michael Buckley, SJ, and Fr. Thomas Buckley, SJ, as well as by numerous other relatives, friends, and neighbors. He was predeceased by his wife, Pat, in 1996.

There will be a funeral Mass at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church in Campbell on July 9th at 11am, followed by burial at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetary and a reception afterwards. A memorial Mass was held in his hometown of Morristown, New Jersey, on July 2nd as his only sibling, Helen, and her family live nearby and many other relatives were assembled in Cape May, NJ, for a family reunion, when he died.

Donations in John’s honor can be made to ARH Recovery Homes, Inc.
1101 S. Winchester Blvd.,Suite J-220 San Jose, CA 95128 Phone: 408-236-6657 info@arhinc.org. He had been very involved with this alcohol recovery home, at one time serving on its board, and would love to have its good work furthered on his behalf.
 John Pope and bride Patricia Buckley Pope on their wedding day August 1954 Convertible