Now that you have decided to put your house on the market and have contacted a real estate agent (or you have decided to purchase a new property), it’s time to get some help to guide you through the rest of the process. But should you hire a real estate/closing attorney? We’re here to explain the benefits of having a real estate or closing attorney at your side to ensure that the sale (or purchase) of your home goes as smoothly as possible.
Many people think they can simply rely on their real estate agent to take them through the full process of buying or selling their homes. But truth be told, only a real estate or closing attorney is legally allowed to prepare the purchase documents, perform a title search, and close the deal.
What Do Real Estate Agents Do?
A real estate agent is the first person you will come into contact with when trying to sell or purchase a property. If you are a seller, a real estate agent will help you figure out how much your property is worth, then start to market it at the price you have agreed to. By communicating with their network of clients and showing the property to the outside world, a real estate agent will, hopefully, be successful in finding a buyer for your property. Once a buyer has been found, you will need to contact an attorney or closing agent to facilitate the closing process.
What Does a Real Estate or Closing Attorney Do?
The first important thing to note is that in Florida a real estate attorney fulfills both functions as attorney and closing agent. Unlike estate agents, real estate or closing attorneys have the legal knowledge and qualifications to ensure that the sale and purchase of a property is binding in the eyes of the law. These attorneys prepare and examine documents for closing and examine title to make certain that the title is clear. They also resolve disputes, manage transactions and provide legal advice.
- Real Estate Documents
Property transferals require many documents to be drafted, including purchasing contracts, deeds for transactions and conveyance, lease agreements (if the property is to be rented out after purchase), and many more. Estate agents can help their clients fill in these forms, but only an attorney has the legal ability to draft or revise them.
- Transaction Reviewing
In some instances, sellers decide to do all the work themselves – they market their own property, sign a contract and negotiate deals themselves. However, an attorney is still required to prepare a binding contract and provide ‘due diligence’ by examining all documentation the seller provides in an attempt to find small issues that the seller might not have noticed.
The final stage of any real estate transaction is known as settlement or closing. During the closing process, the seller will sign a deed and hand it to the buyer, officially transferring ownership of the property. Real estate or closing attorneys’ are frequently involved in the following:
- Examination and preparation of the Deed that transfers title to the property.
A closing attorney will assist both the purchaser and the lender by closely examining the title deed before closing. By ensuring that there are no outstanding claims, liens or mortgages against the property that all parties are not already aware of, the closing attorney will ensure that the lender will have first lien position on the property.
- Title Insurance
Both buyers and lenders require a form of title insurance to protect their interests from any future problems that may arise in relation to the title deed. A closing attorney will be able to file all relevant documentation to ensure that both parties are safe and insured.
Closing attorneys are physically responsible for closing a property transaction and distributing payment to those involved. They are also responsible for recording all of the necessary documents in the pubic records and checking the registry to ensure that the title has been updated and that the deed has been recorded.
In a small number of cases, purchasers are able to pay for a property fully, but in most instances buyers have to take out a loan or mortgage. This is when closing attorneys are essential. Real estate or closing attorneys are also often hired by banks or other loan services, however the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) allows purchasers to choose their own attorneys.
When it comes to buying or selling your home, make sure you have an experienced real estate or closing attorney at your side. For more information, contact Gary I. Handin, P.A. today.