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Columbia Business Monthly

Bring It on Home: What does a closing attorney do?

Aug 07, 2019 11:31AM

By David S. Wyatt, Esq.

So you finally found that house you have been thinking about for years, your dream home. You have imagined decorating and living in it. But have you identified your closing attorney? 

In South Carolina, the law requires an attorney be present at the closing, and the buyer has the right to choose his or her own closing attorney. But what does a closing attorney do? 

Coordination: There are a lot of people involved with a house closing. Do you know them all? Do you want to? The closing attorney not only talks with lenders, buyers, and sellers, but may coordinate with real estate brokers, surveyors, merchants, or parties that hold 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. Wouldn't you rather worry about the color for your new master bathroom? 

Title examination: You are buying that house from someone, but are you getting everything on the house? Are there any liens? Did they sell off the back yard for mineral rights 30 years ago? Did the state get encroachment rights from the previous owner who never told the person who is now selling? An attorney can make sure you have a clear title for the property, which is something the bank lending you money will want to see.

Title insurance: Title insurance protects the purchaser and the lender in the event a future problem is found with the title. Once the title examination is completed, 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 preliminary to obtaining title insurance. 

Document Review: Remember all of those people from the first point? They all have documents. A closing attorney can help you figure what to sign and what not to sign, while also explaining things such as the deed, the note, the settlement statement, the disbursement at the end of the transaction, and the loan documentation required by the lender.

Record and disburse: After the review and execution of the necessary instruments of a real estate or loan closing, the closing attorney is responsible for closing on the transaction and distributing all monies. That means they do one last check at the county offices to update the title, and record the deed and/or deed of trust. The closing attorney then issues a final opinion to the title company and pays the title company its premium. 

Wyatt Law, PA is a real estate, sports, entertainment, and business firm committed to providing valuable legal direction and representation with superior service. The firm's clients include multinational corporations, small and medium businesses, and those planning to start their business. Learn more at www.SEBLawFirm.com.