The real estate closing is the last stage of any real estate transaction. Even with a strong real estate agreement and approval for the mortgage, there are many things that a skilled lawyer does to help clients at the settlement/the closing. This includes working with the title company and negotiating with the attorney for the other party to the sales transaction. We take pride in reviewing all the issues that may be raised at the closing – before the closing date – so that you can walk away with the keys to your new property or a check from the sale of your home.
Some of the many tasks the lawyers at Lulich & Attorneys perform include the following.
Serving as an escrow agent
Lawyers can serve as attorney-closing agents if need be. This means we can serve as:
- The escrow agent for any funds such as funds for repair costs until the funds are distributed
- The title agent who reviews the requirements needed to give the buyer title insurance to the property – including any lending issues.
- The closing agent. This is the person who drafts the settlement agreement which sets forth all the financial transactions involving the real property. The closing agent also disburses the funds to the seller, the broker, and any other interested parties such as the local record of deeds.
- The attorney for either the buyer or seller but not both.
Skilled real estate lawyers review the title insurance requirements
Seasoned Indian River County lawyers perform some of the following tasks depending on whether we represent the buyer or the seller:
- Order the local certificate which states what real estate taxes are due when the property is sold and whether there are any other municipal charges. We also obtain payoff statements for the mortgage amounts the seller owes. We review whether there are any other related closing issues that may affect title such as homeowners association estoppels and insurance information.
- Arrange for title insurance if title insurance hasn’t already been ordered. Generally, title insurance insures the property against claims by prior owners, creditors, and others that they have a claim to the real estate.
- Review any exceptions to the title insurance such as the rights of local utilities to access the real estate to make electrical or other necessary repairs. There are many reasons why the title may have exceptions/defects. We work to remove the defects that will affect the buyer’s rights or to explain why the exceptions should justifiably remain on the title insurance certificate. Other exceptions can include judgments against the seller, claims by repair companies for payment for the repairs they made to the property, any tax claims, claims of adverse possession, and all other claims that affect clear title. Mortgage companies and lenders usually require that buyers have title insurance to protect their interests. Even if the transaction doesn’t require a loan, the buyer should have title insurance.
Claims involving the real estate claim
Any claims by the buyer need to be resolved before the title company and the buyer’s lawyer will agree to release the funds due to the seller. A common issue at closing is the buyer’s claim that certain repairs haven’t been completed. Unless the seller sells the property as-is, the seller is normally required to ensure that the property meets local building code requirements. At the closing, the real estate lawyers work to show that either the repairs have been made or to make arrangements for the repairs. Arrangements usually mean holding back certain funds from the sales proceeds. These funds will be used to finish the necessary repairs.
The buyers and sellers normally need to have, review, and sign certain documents. The lawyer for the buyer/seller reviews these documents with their clients. Common documents that are needed for the real estate closing include:
- The promissory note
- The mortgage
- The HUD-1 Settlement sheet
The lawyer for the seller may need to provide death certificates if an estate is selling the property.
Normally, the seller, title company, or seller’s lawyer will provide final bills for utilities, condominium certificates, taxes, and other bills. Typically; the buyer, seller, and title insurance company review the following items which are reflected on the settlement sheet:
- The payoff statements for the seller’s mortgage
- The water, oil, and electric bills
- Any commissions due to the broker
- Any lending fees and related closing costs
- Funding for the mortgage escrow account
- Transfer tax bills
- Recording fees
- Any interest or other adjustments
Of course, the most important item that the seller cares about is the distribution of the sales proceeds check. Skilled Vero Beach and Sebastian real estate lawyers work diligently to ensure the seller receives the correct sales proceed check.
What happens after the closing?
There are still tasks the real estate lawyer at the closing must perform or make sure the title company performs:
- Double-check all the title exceptions
- Record the deed, mortgage, and any other documents that need recording
- Distribute the payoff checks to the mortgage companies, taxing authorities, utilities, and other companies or people entitled to payment
- Ensure that any liens that should be removed or discharged or taken care of
Other real estate documents that may need review include:
- A power of attorney
- A quitclaim deed
- A trustee’s certificate
- Water and sewer readings
- Smoke detector certifications
- Other documents depending on the type of property being sold and the location of the property
Speak with an experienced Indian River County real estate lawyer today
At Lulich & Attorneys, our Vero Beach and Sebastian real estate lawyers represent buyers and sellers from the initial agreement of sale through the mortgage approval process, inspections, and the settlement closing. Lulich & Attorneys guides buyers and sellers, answers all your questions, and helps resolve any disputes that may arise. To learn how we can help you buy your new home or sell an existing home, call us at 772-580-5500 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.