When you ask people who did their real estate closing, or who handled it, some will mention real estate attorneys. But others will mention title or closing companies. But if a title company can handle a real estate closing, why use an attorney?
What is a Title Company or Closing Agent?
A title company or agent-sometimes called a closing company-handles all the paperwork necessary for your real estate closing. They will make sure funding is in place, contracts are signed, and check on any liens.
Many title companies are owned by, or headed by, real estate attorneys, and many attorneys have title companies. But title companies do not have to be owned or managed by an attorney, so just because a company is a closing company, settlement agent, or title company, does not necessarily mean that any attorney is actually involved in your closing.
There are some big advantages to using a real estate attorney that you will not get with a closing company or settlement agent.
A title company can certainly inform you when there are liens on the property. But as far as answering your questions about those liens, the title company often cannot help, if they are legal questions. For example, you may want to know whether the liens have to be paid, whether they are legally enforceable, or who is responsible for them.
These are all legal questions that an attorney can answer for you.
Many real estate closings have special situations. For example, maybe the seller will want to remain in the home for a time after the closing. This may require a separate Use & Occupancy agreement. Or, you may be purchasing the property at foreclosure, or short sale, or in relation to a tax deed sale—all specific situations that have their own specific legal issues that go beyond just a traditional, straightforward real estate closing.
Problems and Disclosures
The title company will help you fill out disclosures on your property. But many sellers may wonder what legally has to be disclosed, and how. A buyer may want to know what exactly the seller has to disclose, and what happens if things are not properly or fully disclosed. These are again questions best suited for a real estate attorney.
If an inspection goes without any problems, then a title company may work just fine. But what if there is a problem? What problems will allow you to get out of the contract (or allow the buyer to pack out of it)? And, if you need to negotiate an inspection issue, such as a price reduction, or extension of a closing date, it is always best to have an attorney by your side, doing that negotiation—not just a title company.
Remember, there is nothing dangerous about using closing or title companies-so long as they are owned by, or headed by, an attorney willing to represent your side in your real estate closing. Contact our New Jersey real estate law attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC today to help you handle your closing the right way.