We oversee over the entire real estate closing.
THAT’S SMART. PERIOD
Not only does the real estate closing attorney conduct the closing. Before a sale/purchase contract is signed we often review/negotiate the purchase and sale agreement. As attorney-closing agent we can simultaneously be the escrow agent that hold any funds, such as earnest money, in escrow until they are disbursed, the title agent who examines evidence of title and issues the title policies to the buyer and lender, the closing agent who prepares the settlement statement and disburses the funds, and the attorney for the seller or buyer.
When the title order arrives from the lender, the closing attorney first orders a municipal lien certificate, which verifies the real estate taxes and other municipal charges on the property. Insurance binders, payoffs of mortgages and Home owners association estoppels are also ordered.
The closing attorney is responsible for examining the title to the property. For purchases, the title is researched going back 50 years. The closing attorney carefully reviews the title examination to ensure there are no title defects; if there are any issues, the attorney will work with all parties to resolve them. Some title defects are extremely difficult to resolve. (By law, the closing attorney must provide new home buyers with a certification of title).
The closing attorney also coordinates the issuance of title insurance to the lender and the new home buyer. Owner’s title insurance is purchased by the home buyer and provides protection to the homeowner if someone sues and says they have a claim against the home from before the homeowner purchased it. It is the most accurate title examination. The examination purpose is to find any hidden claims, such as a previous owner’s failure to pay taxes or from contractors who say they were not paid for work done on the home before you purchased it. Most lenders require you to purchase a lender’s title insurance policy, which protects the amount they lend.
As the closing day approaches, the closing attorney will coordinate with the lender for the preparation and delivery of numerous documents to be signed at closing, including the mortgage, promissory note, and most importantly, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. The closing attorney will also coordinate with the seller to receive the deed to the property, final utility bills, and condominium certificates. The closing attorney is responsible for handling a number of issues at closing:
- Payoff and discharge of mortgages
- Payment and allocation of real estate taxes and utilities (water, oil, etc.)
- Payment of realtor commissions
- Disclosure and payment of lender fees and closing costs
- Funding of mortgage escrow account
- Payment of transfer taxes and recording fees
- Payment of pre-paid interest
- Distribution of sale proceeds
The closing attorney then conducts the closing. He will explain the numerous loan and closing documents signed by buyer and seller, collect and distribute all funds, and otherwise ensure that the closing is properly conducted.
After the closing, the attorney processes the loan funding, performs a title rundown to ensure there are no changes in the title, then records the deed, mortgage and other recordable instruments. The attorney will also ensure that all paid off mortgages and liens are discharged. Title insurance policies are issues several weeks after the closing.
Seller Attorney Responsibilities
Customarily, a seller’s attorney in Florida has the following responsibilities:
- Generate the first draft of the purchase and sale agreement
- Order mortgage payoff statements
- Assistance with any title clearing efforts such as obtaining old mortgage discharges, death certificates
- Draft the quitclaim deed and power of attorney
- Prepare trustee’s certificate
- Obtain condominium 6d certificate, smoke detector certification, final water/sewer readings (Realtor typically will obtain these as well)
- Representation of seller at closing