The Real Estate Closing Attorney’s Role

A typical house hunter is very selective about which real estate broker they work with, looking for good chemistry, responsiveness, experience and professionalism.  It makes sense to give the same careful consideration to the often-overlooked choice of “closing attorney.” The decision should not be taken lightly: the closing attorney will interact with a buyer constantly during the time period leading up to closing, and as illustrated below will handle many tasks that are crucial to protecting the buyer’s interests and ensuring a smooth closing.  Moreover, it is advisable to engage a trusted and well-qualified attorney before making an offer to purchase, as the offer will dictate the key terms of the subsequent purchase and sale agreement. Most purchasers are unaware that they may choose their closing attorney, and it need not be one from the list that the lender proffers.  Following the signing of an offer to purchase, the closing attorney, in collaboration with you and the lender, will:

  • Negotiate the purchase and sale contract (which the Seller’s attorney initially drafts);
  • Explain the purchase and sale contract’s terms and the conditions to closing;
  • Perform a title search to reveal any covenants, easements, liens, etc. registered against the property that will impede your ownership, and then address these encumbrances;
  • Order a municipal lien certificate to verify that property taxes and other municipal charges on the property have been paid;
  • Coordinate the issuance of title insurance policies to the lender and the home buyer;
  • Coordinate with the lender for the preparation and delivery of numerous documents to be signed at closing, including the mortgage, promissory note, truth in lending disclosures, and most importantly, the HUD-1 settlement statement. As outlined in the HUD-1 settlement statement, the closing attorney is responsible for (among other things) ensuring the:
    • payoff and discharge of existing mortgages;
    • payment and allocation of real estate taxes and utilities between buyer and seller;
    • payment of realtor commissions;
    • disclosure and payment of lender fees and closing costs;
    • funding of the mortgage escrow account;
    • payment of transfer taxes and recording fees;
    • payment of pre-paid interest; and
    • distribution of sale proceeds.

The closing attorney also schedules a date and time for the closing.  On the day of closing, the attorney explains the numerous documents to be signed by the buyer and seller, obtains signatures from both parties and collects and distributes all funds.  Immediately following closing, the closing attorney performs a title rundown to ensure there were no last minute changes in title and delivers the deed, mortgage and other recordable instruments to the registry of deeds to be officially recorded. You can count on the pragmatic and responsive attorneys at Freed Law LLC to navigate you through your new home’s closing in a timely and effective manner.

Please visit our friends at Luxury Residential Group LLC, a boutique real estate agency focusing on buyer and seller representation.

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