It seems like there is always some news story regarding wire fraud and how dangerous it is to send money via a wire transfer. However, wiring money can be a safe, secure and efficient way to send or receive money for a real estate transaction — as long as you take proper precautions to protect against wire fraud.
Buying a property?
All residential real estate transactions in NC will have an attorney involved called the Closing Attorney. One of the many roles of the Closing Attorney is acting as the Escrow Agent, safeguarding all monies involved and properly disbursing them at the end. f you are buying a property, you should only send your money directly to the Closing Attorney’s office, never to the Seller directly. Trust me, we’ve seen it happen! In that situation, the Buyer was anxious to pay the Seller and paid them directly before closing. Which means the Seller could have run off with the money, while still owning property. Thankfully, we were able to get the money back from the Seller in order to properly carry out the closing and to make sure the Buyer’s money was not turned over to the Seller until the transaction was completed.
When sending money to the Closing Attorney’s office, take the wiring instructions they send to you and call their office to verbally confirm the instructions. I always recommend calling the number you find directly on the website associated with the firm, not just what Google says the phone number is and never blindly trusting the number on the instructions you received digitally. Make sure the law office has you down as the Buyer on the transaction and then confirm their wiring instructions. This will safeguard you in case the form you got digitally was a scam. The time it takes to call is worth every minute to ensure your money gets to the correct place.
Selling a property?
When receiving a large amount of money, a wire transfer is a fantastic alternative to depositing a check. This is because your bank may put a hold on the majority of your money deposited via check, if the amount is over $5,525 (which it usually is when you sell property in NC.) In fact, there may be up to a ten day hold under current banking regulations. The threshold amount used to be $5,000, but that was increased back in 2020. Talk to your bank to see what hold they will place on your money if you choose to deposit a check.
If you have decided that you need your funds quickly, here are some helpful tips on how to have a safe and successful wire transfer performed. First, it is very important that you get the proper account number and routing number from your bank. Many banks provide this information in their app or on their website once you log in. However, I always recommend verifying the information with your bank over the phone. This is important because banks often have different routing numbers for incoming wires than the routing number that is normally shown on your check or online for your specific account. Therefore, it is imperative that you make the call to verify your account number and that the routing number you have is for incoming wire transfers.
Secondly, once you know that you have the correct information from your bank, make sure you provide those exact numbers to the Closing Attorney’s office. At Jackson Law, if you opt for a wire, we have you either: (a) Write the account and routing numbers down on a Disbursement Form and sign, verifying that this information is correct, in front of one of our in-office notaries who is also a JL employee, or (b) Write the account and routing numbers down on a Disbursement Form and sign, verifying that this information is correct, in front of an outside notary AND perform an online security verification called CertifID. CertifID takes less than five minutes to complete. We have this standardized process to make sure that you are the exact person providing the wiring instructions to our office.
Here at Jackson Law, we take the procedure surrounding wire transfers very seriously. Extra precautions on your end and ours are always worth the time spent to ensure your money is safe. Now that you know what to do in regards to wire transfers, you can rest easy when you are sending money for or receiving money from a real estate transaction!
With this knowledge, now you can Rest Easy.