Should I Hire a Real Estate Lawyer for Buying or Selling a House

Should I Hire a Real Estate Lawyer for Buying or Selling a House?

Is It Important to Ask a Lawyer When You Are Buying a Residential House?

You may be aware that the state of South Carolina requires licensed attorneys to conduct real estate closings in person, and you will want to have a skilled South Carolina real estate attorney helping you throughout your real estate process.

The seminal case was State v. Buyers Service Co., in which the Supreme Court of South Carolina wrote that it was convinced that real estate and mortgage loan closings must only be conducted under the supervision of attorneys with the ability to furnish legal advice and that protection of the public was of paramount concern.

Duties of the Closing Attorney

South Carolina requires a lawyer to be present at the closing of a real estate transaction and has issued best practices guidelines relating to this order. The South Carolina Supreme Court lists essential components of closing as including five categories:

  • Title Search
  • Loan documents
  • Closing
  • Recordation of documents
  • Disbursement of transaction funds

All of these steps exemplify when you want and need to have legal representation because every step should be supervised by a lawyer. Specific steps that demonstrate the need for attorneys include:

  • Receiving the contract — Essentially the first step in the home buying process, receiving a contract leads to a closing attorney reaching out to every party to gather all of the information on the transaction required of both the buyer and the seller. When it comes to the buyer, the attorney will coordinate with a lender to obtain banking documents and keep tabs on receiving inspection reports while ordering a title abstract. For a seller, a lawyer will gather information about mortgages needing to be paid off, loan insurance, inspection reports, and other homeowner documents.
  • Reviewing the title to the property — An attorney will learn all about the history of your potential property. Examining the title will mean researching the chain of ownership, including deeds from one owner to the next, going back a minimum of 61 years for a particular parcel of land. An examiner will verify that all mortgages or liens against the property are satisfactory, and also lists any easements or defects in the title. A title search often requires research on an exact parcel that has been deeded. A piece of land may have been combined or divided over the course of many prior decades.
  • Applying for Title Insurance — This will secure your purchase. After a clear title has been determined and an attorney has issued a title opinion, they will apply for title insurance. The title insurance will be the policy insuring the good title of the property so a lender has an assurance that it can be used as collateral for a loan.
  • Collecting and preparing documents — An attorney collects all of the documents from a lender as well as disclosures and assorted other documents from a realtor’s closing coordinator. The deed and settlement statement will then be prepared, and an entire package of all required paperwork to finalize a purchase will be readied.
  • Closing — At closing, the parties will meet with an attorney who will explain all of the legal documents to the parties and then walk each party through what needs to be signed, as well as how they affect each party. A buyer should expect a closing attorney to explain all of the loan documents, including the interest rate, amortization schedule, late payment or prepayment penalties, terms of the loan and maturity date, and events of default. Following the signatures, the buyer receives the keys to their new home.
  • Disbursements of Transaction Funds — Essentially the loose ends, an attorney will be the clearing house for all of the funds being brought to a closing with the lender, the seller, and the buyer. The funds will be held in a trust account until disbursement, and the attorney will coordinate payments based on a settlement statement. Prior mortgages will be paid off, and bills from third parties included in the transaction, commissions, and seller’s funds are also dealt with.
  • Recording the Legal Documents — This step makes the transaction official. Every executed and pertinent document to the transaction will be filed in the appropriate public records, and proper indexing will be verified. An attorney continues to follow up with lenders to make sure the satisfactions of liens or mortgages are filed when appropriate, and then file for the final title insurance opinion. Both the buyer and seller will receive original documents filed and a record book of the transaction.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a South Carolina Real Estate Attorney

Are you preparing to buy or sell a home in South Carolina? You are going to need to retain legal counsel at some point, so you might as well contact South Carolina Real Estate Attorney as soon as possible.

Mark W. Weeks was born and raised in Charleston, SC. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Newberry College and his law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He founded Weeks & Irvine in 2010.

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