Signing of Borrowers

Two door handles

The Mortgage Instructions Toolkit provides practical guidance for lawyers responding to lender requests in residential real estate transactions. This page addresses the signing of borrowers.

The situation

There are many steps to a residential real estate transaction that lead to the moment when a borrower(s) signs the documents with the lawyer.

Lawyers who follow a set process and allow time for the signing step will reduce their liability exposure, are in a stronger position to defend a claim, and will improve their residential real estate practice.

Practice guidance

  • Use a checklist for the signing process to reduce the chances of forgetting a document or information that you need to bring to the client’s attention.
  • Book enough time to review all the materials with your client and answer any questions. This may be routine to you. For most clients, this is an important moment. Take the opportunity to explain your role as a lawyer on this matter. This is a chance to strengthen your professional relationship with your client. Clients will appreciate and remember your professionalism and patience.
  • Meet in a meeting room, not in your office. When that is not possible, ensure only documents of this client are visible.
  • Verify the client’s identity by checking identification. Make sure the photographs match the client and that the name on the identification matches the name on the documents. See also Borrower identification requirements.
  • Sign documents only with the borrower present. Sometimes, a borrower will bring others to the signing meeting. With the client’s instructions, it is fine to discuss the process, review title, survey, loan documents, etc. with other people present. When it comes time to sign the documents, the other parties should leave, and you should meet only with your client.
  • Follow your office procedure to file documents so that you can find them easily later. See also Retention of mortgage documents.
  • Enter in your calendar system the date by when your final report must be submitted to the lending institution. File your report on time. See also Reporting.

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