AND: the loan officer must have the same sense of urgency as the realtor.
Most of the time, if an escrow is held up for one reason or another, it's because there's something wrong or lacking at the lending side.
One of the worst experiences I had was the day before closing when the loan officer said the underwriter needs something else as a result of the appraisal. But no one told us! The underwriter and the loan officer had sufficient time to communicate and to relay to us any problems and other underwriter requirements before reaching the 11th hour.
With many REOs imposing per diem penalties for not closing on time, it is incumbent upon the loan officer to make sure that everything at his end is done in a timely manner. I have refused to work with loan officers whose lack of follow ups and seemingly uncaring attitudes reflected on my ability to deliver a property on time.