5.34 million existing homes were sold in 2018. That’s a whole lot of homes, and even more money exchanging hands. That’s why, like with any major legal deal, it’s a good idea to have a closing attorney present when you buy or sell your house.
But what is a real estate closing attorney? What do they do, and why do you need one? We explain everything you need to know about this vital role.
What is a Real Estate Closing Attorney?
A closing attorney is a vital part of the closing process. Though not always required, several states have laws requiring an attorney’s presence. These states are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
But even if you’re state isn’t on that list, you may still want to consider it. A closing attorney handles organizing and finalizing a real estate closing.
Predominantly, they work on the seller’s behalf. They ensure documents are properly signed and the agreed-upon money is paid. Then the buyer leaves with rights to the property.
Most importantly, they make sure all the legal requirements are met, and the documents are legal.
1. They Make Sure the Documents are Accurate
Your closing attorney will read through the entire transaction document line by line. They’ll ensure that everything in it is accurate and that you’re legally protected down the line.
They also look for any issues that might leave you unprotected, and work to close these loopholes.
2. They Clear Liens and Judgements
Properties are big assets, so there’s a lot of legal tightropes wrapped around them. Many issues can come up with your property once someone pulls the title report for the property.
There could be issues with back taxes, liens, divorces, or trusts that the property might be tied up in. This can hold up the sale of a property by month. Your closing attorney is there to help untangle the entire legal mess.
3. They’re Trained Negotiators
Lawyers know how to use logic and emotion to back up their arguments to get what they want. Most likely, your buyer will want to negotiate repairs after the inspection report comes back with issues (which it always does).
Your closing agent can back up your real estate agent in negotiations to help you get the best deal. This can save you thousands in repairs, and weeks or even months to get those repairs done.
4. They Can Explain the Jargon
At some point in closing, there’s something called escrow documents. This is a deposit of deeds or funds from one party to another. But we had to Google that and we’re still not positive what all that entails, or how to do it legally.
Your real estate agent can often handle these, but they won’t be able to go over the documents with a fine-tooth comb the way your closing attorney can. Your closing attorney can check the paperwork lookout for any red flags before you sign.
But the entire real estate selling process is full of legal jargon and confusing documents. Your agent will do the best they can to help it all make sense, but a lawyer will have a better background and be able to make sure everything’s right.
As with any major legal transaction, it’s a good idea to hire a closing lawyer to back you up.
5. They Make Sure You Get the Best Deal Possible
Even after you sell your house, there’s still a lot of bills you have to pay. These are expenses like your remaining mortgage, property taxes, or mortgage insurance. And of course, you have to cover your seller’s commission. Every circumstance is different, and yours may mean you have even more fees than that.
But your closing agent can look over all these fees and ensure you’re not paying a penny more than you need to.
6. They Organize the Documents
There are so many documents in a real estate closing. There are at least 9 key documents that are signed just for closing. Not to mention the piles of other documentation you have to handle when a property changes hands.
But fortunately, a closing attorney keeps track of it all. All you have to do is sign where they point, and ask questions if you want. No organization. No struggling to understand it all. Your real estate attorney has your back.
7. Provide Peace of Mind
When you put all of this together, you’re essentially buying peace of mind when you hire a closing attorney. You know you don’t need to worry about getting into legal trouble over your property, you know you don’t need to worry about the sale falling through.
You also know you don’t need to worry about paying more than you’re fair share in expenses. You don’t have to untangle a legal net keeping your home from selling.
You’re closing attorney has your back, and that’s all you need.
A Closing Attorney is Vital for Peace of Mind When You Sell
Real estate closings are a complex legal process, and a lot of money exchanges hands from lenders to buyers to sellers. That’s why hiring a closing attorney makes the process easier, and safer. In some states, you’re even legally required to have a closing attorney present.
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