Unveiling the Role of Real Estate Closing Attorneys: Expertise and Functions

by: Attorney Noyes

8/28/20233 min read

A property lawyer specializing in real estate closings plays a pivotal role in the complex process of property transactions. From drafting and reviewing documents related to property mortgages to facilitating the transfer of title documents, a real estate lawyer's expertise is crucial. Let's delve into the multifaceted responsibilities of these legal professionals.

Understanding the Role of a Real Estate Closing Lawyer

Referred to as a real estate lawyer, a lawyer for real estate closing possesses the legal authority to practice real estate law and offers expert guidance to clients engaged in property transactions. In specific scenarios, these lawyers may even take the lead in pursuing matters in state and local jurisdictions on behalf of their clients.

Functions of a Real Estate Closing Lawyer

1. Property Title Examination

One of the foremost responsibilities of a real estate closing lawyer is to ensure a clear title for the property in question. A valid ownership title is necessary to make sure the transaction is clear. Upon receiving a real estate purchase contract or a mortgage or bank representative referral, the closing lawyer meticulously examines the property's title. This examination helps the buyer and the lender assess the property's title.

The lawyer's assessment reveals vital information such as usage restrictions, encroachments, easements, and the feasibility of transferring the title from the seller to the buyer. Identifying any existing mortgages that must be settled during the closing process to effectuate the title transfer is also within the purview of the lawyer.

Understanding which judgments, liens, and mortgages need resolution before or during the closing is essential for the lender. Additionally, the title examination enables the lender's underwriter to address concerns about the property's title status.

2. Coordination of the Transaction

A real estate closing lawyer is the linchpin of communication among all parties involved. In addition to liaising with buyers, sellers, and lenders, the lawyer collaborates with real estate agents, appraisers, surveyors, prospective insurers, the seller's mortgage holder (for payoff information), tax authorities, inspectors, contractors, neighboring property owners, homeowner associations, and the seller's legal representative.

The lawyer must not only grasp the intricacies that demand attention for a seamless closing but also engage with numerous stakeholders to ensure the timely completion of the transaction. Effective communication and coordination are especially critical when the lawyer begins drafting the settlement statement and needs to synchronize with multiple parties on dates and financial aspects of the property deal.

3. Title Insurance Arrangements

Title insurance protects the buyer and lender against potential title-related issues. After completing the title examination, the real estate closing lawyer assembles the necessary documentation. It presents it to a title company to facilitate the issuance of a title binder—a fundamental step in securing title insurance.

While title insurance is not obligatory for buyers opting for a non-mortgage purchase, it is a customary requirement for most lenders in real estate transactions. From the buyer's standpoint, title insurance is highly recommended to safeguard against claims, rights, interests, and liens that might arise about the property's title. Despite its relatively low cost, the coverage it provides justifies the expense.

For lenders, title insurance is imperative to ensure the property transitions to the rightful owner, aligning with their interests. This becomes particularly important if the lender intends to retain the loan and not transfer it to another servicing entity after the property loan's closure.

4. Record-keeping and Fund Disbursement

A real estate closing lawyer finalizes the transaction and disburses funds accordingly. After meticulously reviewing and executing the necessary real estate and loan closing documents, the lawyer conducts a final check of the local registry, effectuates the deed and deed of trust, and documents these actions.

Furthermore, the lawyer provides a final statement to the title company and settles their dues. The lawyer also manages the disbursement of various costs associated with the transaction, such as outstanding county taxes, brokerage fees, existing loan payoffs, homeowner insurance premiums, homeowner association dues, inspection expenses, and legal fees for closing.

Unpacking Real Estate Law

Real estate law involves buying and selling real property, including land and structures. It extends to legal matters concerning fixtures and appliances attached to the property. These legal experts ensure adherence to regulations during property transactions and may be involved in commercial or residential use zoning decisions. The spectrum of real estate law covers property taxes, estate planning, titles, and zoning regulations. Given that real estate laws vary by jurisdiction, lawyers must be authorized to practice in the relevant area and stay informed about any regulatory changes that could impact transactions.

Key Concepts

1. Buyer's Agent: Real estate agents, often called brokers, bridge the gap between potential buyers and sellers, facilitating property transactions.

2. Interest: Beyond the principal amount borrowed in a property mortgage, interest represents the lender's charge, payable over time.

3. Mortgage Broker: As intermediaries between lenders and property buyers, mortgage brokers facilitate the loan process.

In Conclusion

Navigating the realm of property transactions can be intricate and overwhelming. Familiarizing oneself with the multifaceted aspects of the process is crucial. Suppose uncertainties persist regarding the legal dimensions of a property purchase. In that case, the experienced real estate lawyers at Noyes & Associates are ready to facilitate the best possible transaction on your behalf.