This article discusses the role of a closing attorney during the final stages of your North Carolina real estate transaction, such as:
- What aspects of the closing transaction an attorney can handle or help with.
- The benefits of having an attorney present during closing in North Carolina.
- Who hires the closing attorney, and who covers the costs.
What Is A Closing Attorney?
A closing attorney is a real estate law expert who handles the legal aspects of a house or building sale. They will review documents, check for liens on the property, and generally ensure that the entire process is done within the letter of the law to the benefit of all parties involved.
Is A Closing Attorney Required In North Carolina Real Estate Purchase And Sale Transactions?
Yes, a closing attorney is required to review all the documents and sign off on the transaction. In North Carolina, they do not technically need to be present at the signing, but usually are present for the meeting.
What Aspects Of A Real Estate Transaction Does A Closing Attorney Handle?
Real estate transactions are never simple. Given the importance of property and the legal aspects involved in its sale, you want the transaction guaranteed and supervised by an expert. For those very reasons, a qualified and certified attorney must conduct the legal handling of any real estate closing by law.
As part of the closing process, an attorney must conduct a settlement for the real estate closing, gathering all the information about the transaction, which includes the offer to purchase signed by the seller and buyer. Often the real estate agent (or the bank) will contact the attorney to conduct the settlement, though either party is also welcome, and encouraged, to bring one of their choosing as well.
Once the attorney has the property in the queue and the date for settlement, then they will conduct a title search. This means examining any issues with the title and investigating any ownership problems. They will also look at any potential liens on the property and make sure that the proper title insurance is obtained.
This ensures that the new homeowner or landowner can own that property without any fear of someone later claiming they own part of the land or that there might be a lien that could be enforced later on.
Finally, the attorney will communicate with the lender (if there is one), contact all parties, prepare the closing settlement documents to ensure that every cent is accounted for, and prepare the title documents so that the title can transfer.
Once the settlement has occurred, they will also help disperse all the money, and record the property so that it is now known that the new owner is, in fact, the owner of the property.
What Are The Benefits Of Having A Closing Attorney?
In North Carolina, by law, an attorney has to go over everything and approve the closings. Therefore, there will always be an attorney involved, and though an attorney does not technically need to be present at the actual signing, it is highly recommended for one to be there.
Additionally, there is a significant benefit to having your own attorney, instead of just working with whatever attorney the real estate agent or bank chose. This is because choosing one yourself guarantees that the attorney really works for you and no one else.
What’s more, this allows you to establish a relationship with your attorney, and if there is any question about the title or the process, you can call them directly. The unfortunate truth is, something almost always comes up in real estate transactions. Having that personal relationship with an attorney, knowing that they work for you, and will always be available and helpful, is quite an advantage.
What Overlooked Errors Or Documents Issues Might Only A Closing Attorney Find?
Titles, ownership issues, and liens are complex topics, sometimes with long histories. What’s more, if there is a judgment attached to the house or a lien connected to the house, most individuals or real estate agents won’t know how to recognize it or resolve it.
Additionally, if you are dealing with a non-traditional closing, there needs to be a contract that identifies the terms of the agreement to protect all parties involved – a contract that only a lawyer is equipped to draft and sign off on.
Who Hires The Closing Attorney And Who Pays The Cost?
The settlement agent, meaning the one that disperses the money, is always hired by the buyer, who is also responsible for paying the associated costs. The seller has an opportunity, if they would like, to hire their attorney to prepare the seller’s documents, the deed, and other such documents.
Most of the time that is usually a higher cost to the seller so they will use the buyer’s attorney, and then that attorney will apportion part of their cost to the seller – but the brunt of the settlement costs is always going to go to the buyer.