Closing tips: Figure in time for wire transfers

Recent changes to the Illinois’ Title Insurance Act could demand some smart scheduling on your part. On January 1, the state banned cashier’s checks, personal checks, trust account checks, money orders, and cash payments totalling $50,000 or more in most real estate transactions, meaning most buyers will have to use a wire transfer.

The change is intended to curb a rise in cashier’s check fraud, says Ira Berger, president of Sterling Title Services. Berger he hasn’t faced this problem itself, but he says he does get e-mails from underwriters on an almost daily basis warning of bad checks. Sterling won’t accept personal checks above $200 and may eventually refuse to accept them altogether, he says.

Although a wire transfer shouldn’t be difficult for any legitimate buyer, it does take more time than handing over a check. Buyers need to be aware of busy bank days and schedule their title business accordingly. Title transactions are official once a transfer is completed, not when it is initiated, Berger says, meaning a buyer who shows up at a title company on the afternoon of high-volume paydays like the 15th or the last day of the month could end up waiting until the next business day for his money to actually change hands. His advice — look at your calendar and plan accordingly.

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