The role of a real estate attorney is particularly important in following matters:
A. Purchase and Sale Agreement
To avoid potential complications, it is advisable for both the buyer and the seller to enlist the services of a real estate attorney prior to the signing of a Purchase and Sale Agreement. By doing this, each attorney can help make his/her client aware of the legal ramifications of each clause in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
B. Title Search
This is accomplished by examining the records of the Registry of Deeds and, in some cases, the Registry of Probate of the county in which the property is located to insure that the owner does in fact have a good, clear record and marketable title to the property. The title search will also reveal any encumbrances, rights of way, easements, restrictions and any other matters or conditions which may affect the property.
C. The Closing
This is the final financial settlement. The buyer, the seller, their respective attorneys and the attorney for the mortgage holder meet to finalize and execute all the closing documents. These, among many others, include:
- The deed
- Discharges of Mortgages
- Promissory Note and Mortgage
- The Truth in Lending Statement which documents all finance charges
- Survey or Mortgage Plot Plan
- Final Accounting which involves a prorating of property taxes, water bills, etc.
D. After the Closing
After the closing, the title examination is updated and the Deed, Mortgage and other miscellaneous documents including a Municipal Lien Certificate from the town or city in which the property is located are recorded in the Registry of Deeds, at which time title to the property is transferred to the new owner.
The attorney’s role is to make sure that his/her client is informed and protected through the transaction. When choosing an attorney, keep in mind that many specialize in aspects of legal practice. You should take the time to make sure that the attorney you choose is familiar with local real estate laws and practices.