CLOSING ATTORNEY: What Does a Closing Attorney Do

CLOSING ATTORNEY
CLOSING ATTORNEY

It is critical to have an attorney for your real estate closing whether you are buying or selling real estate. A real estate attorney ensures that everyone understands the complicated legal process of real estate closings and that everything is done correctly. South Carolina requires that many aspects of a real estate purchase and refinance closing be completed under the supervision of an attorney to better protect consumers during the closing process. Read on to get a better idea of what a real estate attorney does during a real estate closing, who hires them, and who pays the attorney’s fees and salary.

Closing Attorney Real Estate

A closing attorney is in charge of organizing and supervising a real estate transaction’s closing, as well as preparing the necessary paperwork and contracts. In some states, a closing attorney must be present during the closing.

Closing attorneys can represent a buyer, a seller, and a lender at closing. Closing attorneys are also referred to as escrow agents, settlement agents, and real estate attorneys. All of these terms refer to professionals who perform the same functions, regardless of the title.

What Does A Closing Attorney Do?

If you are purchasing a home or refinancing an existing mortgage, you may wonder, “What is the role of the closing attorneys?” During a real estate transaction, the closing attorney performs five primary functions:

Title examination: 

Both the buyer and the lender will want a clear title to the property. The sale may become much more complicated if there is no clear title. The closing attorney will begin checking the title of the property being sold upon receipt of a real estate purchase agreement or a request from a bank or mortgage broker. The title examination is used to evaluate the title to the real estate by the purchaser and the lender.

The closing attorneys will identify any existing mortgages against the real estate that must be satisfied at closing for a good title to be transferred.

Title insurance: 

Title insurance protects both the buyer and the lender if a future problem with the title is discovered. Following the completion of the title examination, the closing attorney prepares an opinion on the title that is offered to a title company for the issuance of a title binder, which is required to obtain title insurance. Title insurance is optional for the buyer in a real estate closing if he or she does not need to obtain financing from a bank or mortgage broker; however, it is required by almost all lenders at the time of real estate purchase or refinances.

Coordinator:

The closing attorney establishes communication channels for all parties involved in the real estate closing. The closing attorneys may consult with real estate brokers, surveyors, merchants, or parties holding judgments that have attached to the real estate, the seller’s mortgage holder (payoff request), the purchaser’s prospective homeowner’s insurance company, the county tax department, adjoining property owners, home inspectors, contractors, homeowner associations, and the seller’s attorney. Also, the closing attorneys must be aware of all the issues that must be addressed in order for the closing transaction to go smoothly, but he or they must also frequently communicate with multiple parties to coordinate the timely close of the transaction.

Review of documents: 

The attorney is present on the day of closing to review the various instruments associated with the real estate and loan closings. The closing attorneys are available to explain documents such as a deed, a note, a deed of trust, a settlement statement, disbursement at the end of the transaction, and lender-required loan documentation.

Record and disburse: 

The closing attorney is literally in charge of closing the deal and distributing all funds. The closing attorney checks the local registry one last time to update the title and records the deed and/or deed of trust after reviewing and signing the necessary instruments for a real estate or loan closing. Furthermore, the closing attorney then provides the title company with a final opinion and pays the title company’s premium.

Who Pays Closing Attorney Fees

Buying or selling a home can be complicated and emotional, especially if it’s your first time. Even after an offer is accepted, there are numerous steps to purchasing a home. During the due diligence period for a home, buyers and their agents have a lot on their plates.

Closing costs are one of the most important things to consider when buying a home. Understanding closing fees and who pays the attorney for each will prevent surprises during your home purchase.

Typical Buyer Closing Costs

Many of the buyer’s expenses are related to their property research. The buyer will pay for the home appraisal, inspection, and survey fees (if one is performed). The buyer also pays for title insurance, deed recording fees, home loan fees (including origination), and closing attorney fees.

Typical Seller Closing Costs

When you bought your new home, one of the things you were most excited about was not having to pay real estate commission fees. It is now your responsibility as the seller to cover those costs. You must also pay for state revenue stamps and certain attorney fees, such as faxes, copies, and courier fees to pay off the mortgage, and deed preparation. If you and the buyer agree on a home warranty, you are also responsible for that coverage (usually covering the first year in the home).

As a result, the buyer pays the closing attorney fees, while the seller covers other closing attorney fees. These may include the attorney’s fee for preparing the deed. You must also pay any fees associated with your sides of the transaction, such as faxes, copies, and courier fees to pay off your mortgage.

Closing Attorney Salary

The average annual salary for a Closing Attorney in the United States is $75,437 as of November 2, 2022. In case you need a quick salary calculator, that works out to about $36.27 per hour. This equates to $1,450 per week or $6,286 per month.

While ZipRecruiter reports annual salary ranging from $126,500 to $11,000, the majority of closing attorney salaries currently range from $51,000 (the 25th percentile) to $98,000 (the 75th percentile), with top earners (the 90th percentile) earning $115,000 annually across the United States.

The average salary range for a closing attorney varies significantly (by up to $47,000), implying that there may be numerous opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location, and years of experience.

A closing attorney in your area earns $82,520 per year on average, which is $7,083 (9%) more than the national average annual salary of $75,437. In terms of closing attorney salaries, New York ranks fourth out of 50 states.

Who Hires a Closing Attorney?

Depending on what they are asked to do, a real estate attorney can play a variety of roles. A real estate attorney can represent either the buyer or the seller when buying or selling property. A single attorney cannot do both. When the buyer needs to borrow money for a mortgage, the real estate attorney who handles the closing represents the lender rather than the buyer or seller.

While property buyers and sellers are not required by law to use the services of a real estate attorney, it is generally recommended. When a loan is involved, the closing must be handled by the lender’s attorney. As a result, three real estate attorneys are frequently involved in the sale of property, one representing the buyer, another the seller, and the third the mortgage lender.
So, why should both buyer and seller hires a real estate attorney to represent them at closing? And why does a lender need an attorney?

Real Estate Attorney for the Buyer

Anyone who wishes to purchase real estate must do so under the terms of a legally binding contract. A real estate closing attorney will ensure that the offer to purchase is properly drafted. It cannot be enforced in a court of law unless it is.

Even if a real estate agent or broker drafts the contract, a real estate attorney should review it to ensure it is valid and correct. Among the topics typically covered are:

  • Property condition, particularly defects and the age of any improvements on the property
  • Any liens or easements that might exist
  • Closing dates for the proposed sale
  • Boundary line location
  • The soil’s drainage capacity

Real Estate Attorney for the Seller

Even though Georgia law does not require a formal disclosure form, various disclosures (by sellers) should be included in the contract. The most important disclosures concern existing defects in the home that the seller is aware of. Sellers are also required by federal law to disclose the use of lead-based paint in the home.

Once an offer is made, the seller has the option to accept or reject it or to make a counteroffer and negotiate contract changes. When a seller receives a purchase offer, he or she will typically retain the services of a real estate attorney. Because a real estate attorney will assist the seller in negotiating the offer, the buyer and seller will not use the same attorney.

Real Estate Attorney for the Mortgage Lender

Closing is the final step in any real estate transaction. The seller receives payment and transfers the title to the buyer at this point. While some people can pay cash for a home, the majority must obtain a loan of some kind, most commonly a mortgage.

While the seller’s attorney is frequently involved in the closing, particularly in terms of negotiating closing dates, the closing is handled by the lender’s attorney. In Georgia, a real estate attorney is required by law to handle the closing, though the buyer’s and/or seller’s attorneys may be present to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

What does a closing attorney do?

A real estate closing attorney is in charge of streamlining the closing process for any type of real estate or refinancing. They oversee the closing, including the collection and distribution of funds as well as the provision of title insurance to the lender and buyer.

Who chooses the closing attorney?

The buyer

Even if the attorney represents the lender at closing, the buyer has the option of selecting the same attorney as long as that attorney meets the lender’s requirements. Expect the closing to take 30 to 45 days from the time all parties sign the contract.

What is the lender’s attorney’s responsibility at the closing?

The closing attorney’s primary responsibility is to handle all of the arrangements required to close the lender’s mortgage transaction. Outside of the loan approval process, the closing attorney coordinates all efforts that allow the closing to take place.

How much does a closing attorney cost?

Depending on your location, settlement costs for using a closing attorney or escrow company to handle the closing of a transaction can range from $500 to $1,500.

Does NC require a closing attorney?

Yes. A title attorney is required by North Carolina law to conduct the examination and close the transaction.

Conclusion

Closing attorneys can be a huge help in ensuring a smooth closing, and it’s a good idea to have one present even if it’s not required by law in the state where you’re selling or buying real estate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who chooses closing attorney in NC?

The parties should agree on a closing date and location. A representative can make suggestions about these options but cannot make a decision. Similarly, the party seeking representation decides to hire an attorney.

Does a seller need an attorney at closing in NC?

In North Carolina, residential property sales must be handled by a residential real estate attorney. This is different from some other states, where title companies can help with home sales. At the closing, there may be real estate agents and either an escrow or settlement agent, as well as the buyer, seller, and their lawyers.

What does the lawyer do in the closing process?

The lawyer will prepare an adjustment statement that details what has been paid and what is owed on each side of the transaction.

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