Georgia is one of about 10 states requiring an attorney to facilitate the settlement of a real estate transaction. A closing attorney will perform many of the same responsibilities that a title company would handle, in addition to providing legal expertise. Other benefits of a closing attorney include negotiating skills and the ability to lend an impartial opinion to issues arising between buyers and sellers during the final phase of the home purchase.
Responsibilities of closing attorneys
The closing attorney is tasked with overseeing the settlement of a real estate transaction. Specific duties include reading all documents related to the transaction to ensure legal compliance. If errors are found, they must be corrected prior to settlement. The closing attorney must also ensure the title to the home is clear and that the seller is legally permitted to offer the property for purchase. If title issues arise, a closing attorney can assist with their resolution.
In the State of Georgia, the conveyance of title from one party to another is considered the practice of law. Thus, a closing attorney must be present to facilitate the settlement process. The closing attorney typically represents the financial institution or lender at closing, ensuring all required provisions of the mortgage documents are carried out to the letter of the law. However, having an attorney present at closing benefits all parties to the transaction. Should issues arise, the closing attorney can provide assurance with regard to the legality of the transaction.
Benefits of a closing attorney for buyers and sellers
Although closing attorneys technically represent the lender, both sellers and buyers benefit from their knowledge and skill. Closing attorneys specialize in the settlement aspects of a real estate transaction and are adept at interpreting the associated legal documents. They are also able to negotiate points of contention and ensure the seller is free to sell the property and that the buyer is receiving a clear title. First time buyers may have questions about the settlement process, specifically the significant amount of legal language in the closing documents. A closing attorney is most equipped to answer these types of questions. However, closing attorneys do not specifically represent buyers or sellers. If the settlement is expected to be contentious, the individual parties may want to consider bringing an attorney for exclusive representation.
A home purchase is likely one of the most significant investments you will make in your lifetime. Having a lawyer at closing provides reassurance to all parties and their expertise at successfully completing real estate transactions is a benefit to buyers and sellers.
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