Wire Transfer Lessons for Home Buyers

July 25, 2010

Wire transfers are a good way to send money to the bank of your title company when you’re buing a house.  I’m used to paying for everything with credit card, or sometimes personal checks, but when you’re dealing with a big money transfer the banks don’t want to mess around with waiting for a check to clear.  One option is to use a cashier’s check but if you need to send money quickly or over distance then wire transfer is a good option.

We had to put down some earnest down in a hurry last week when trying to buy a house so we wired some money to title company’s bank.  I never had the need to wire money before so I had a few things to learn.

Bank Transfer Rules

My first wire transfer lesson is that most banks require you to be at the bank in person to send the money; you can’t request it over the phone.  Since I was at work and the money had to go right away, that meant my wife was the one to initiate the transfer.

I wrote up all the transfer information:

  • Funding Account #
  • Wire Transfer Amount
  • Destination Bank:
    • Account Number
    • ABA
    • Physical Address
  • Address of Receiving Company

Then faxed it over to our bank, and they had the transfer ready to go when my wife arrived.  She simply had to verify the information and approve the transfer.

Joint Accounts Required

We have a few accounts at our bank, some of them we’re joint owners on and others we’re not.  My wife and I always deposit checks or check balances for each other and never really think about which accounts we have joint ownership on.

However, if you’re going to wire money out of an account, you must be a joint owner on it.  The rule certainly makes sense but if you’re used to sharing accounts it’s something you might overlook.  I did and at first she wasn’t going to be able to send them money for us.  Luckily I was able to transfer the money into a different account we were joint owners on and the bank was able to send the money.

Funds Transfer Timing

Once the bank enters the transfer information into their system, it’s sent to the wire department who will review the the request, then hopefully approve the bank wire transfer and set it up.

I thought once the transfer was keyed in that the money would go right away but that’s not necessarily the case.  If you’re not in need of a fast delivery that’s no big deal but if you need the money to get there as quickly as possible it’s something to keep in mind.

The request has to travel through the appropriate approval channels and can take several hours after it’s submitted.  It won’t necessarily take that long, ours only took a few minutes to send.  I imagine it has a lot to do with the size of the money transfer.  Ours was relatively small so it was sent pretty quickly but if you’re sending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it could take a while.

If you need your money to go out that same day it’s best to initiate the wire transfer first thing in the morning if you can.

Wire Transfer Tracking

If the recipient is really antsy to get their money, you don’t have to call your bank every few minutes and ask for an update.  Once our wire transfer request was entered into the system the bank gave us a transfer tracking number. 

Since you don’t know how long the transfer will take, you can simply forward the tracking # to the recipient and have them monitor for the transaction.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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