What Does a Real Estate Closing Attorney Do?
In Georgia, a Real Estate Closing Attorney is responsible for preparing all documents necessary for the transaction and ensuring that the contractual obligations of all parties to the transaction are met. Although the State of Georgia requires that Real Estate Closing Attorneys only represent one party in a transaction, Georgia law has always recognized a duty of the closing attorney to act with integrity and honesty with everyone participating in the transaction.
At Conger and Smith, we take our duties to all parties of the transaction seriously – our team will be in close contact with all involved throughout the process, and we will be sure to explain all aspects of the transaction questions that may arise along the way.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Closing Attorney?
A Real Estate Closing Attorney will ensure that all aspects of the closing process are in compliance with the contract between the parties and that the transaction is conducted in accordance with state and federal laws. Two of the most significant responsibilities bearing on the closing attorney will be the title examination – a review of local land records to ensure that the sure that good and marketable title can be conveyed at Closing – and the clearance of title by collecting all documents necessary to remove any temporary liens, encumbrances, and other defects of title on the subject property. As part of every transaction in our office, we will certify that good title is conveyed at closing.
Our attorneys prepare and review all necessary documents for closing and will coordinate with all parties to ensure that they are all properly executed. After confirming that all requirements under the Contract have been met, the closing attorney will disburse funds and record all documents necessary to evidence the transaction.
Our closing attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience with a wide variety of property transactions from residential to commercial, industrial, and agricultural and we apply that knowledge and experience to every transaction that comes through our offices.
What Is Title Insurance and How Does it Apply to My Closing?
In Georgia, when a property is financed, bought or sold, a record of that transaction is recorded in the county land records at the local courthouse. Additionally, records of other events that may affect the ownership of a property, like liens, encumbrances (evidence of debt secured by real property), and easements are also recorded in county land records.
When you buy title insurance for your property in Georgia, a real estate attorney will research the county land records to find – and remedy, if possible – several types of ownership issues that may impair title to the subject property. Even the most skilled title professionals may not find all problems associated with a property, though. Some risks, such as title issues due to filing errors, forgeries, or undisclosed heirs, are difficult to identify. So, after the attorney finishes their searching, they may also offer a title insurance policy that will help protect you from a variety of issues that might be uncovered later.
If you take out a mortgage loan when you buy your property, your lender will require a loan policy of title insurance. This protects the lender’s interest in your property until your loan is paid off or refinanced. An owner’s policy of title insurance can be purchased in conjunction with or independently of a lender’s policy, and it insures your ownership rights to the property. Even though you’ll pay for this policy only once, your coverage will last as long as you own your home.
A real estate purchase may be the largest financial investment you ever make. So, we suggest that all Buyers purchase an owner’s policy of title insurance as part of their real estate transaction. At Conger and Smith, we proudly offer policies through our partnership with First American Title Insurance Company, one of the nation’s leading providers of title insurance policies.
What Are Closing Costs?
At Conger and Smith, we take great care to avoid unnecessary costs and expenses for our clients and customers. We don’t control most of the fees applied to a typical closing, and costs can widely depend on the type and complexity of the transaction being conducted, but we will make every effort to complete your transaction efficiently and effectively.
On a real estate purchase, it is typical in our community that Buyers will pay all closing costs except for realtor’s commissions, expenses related to remediating title issues, and Seller’s portion of any pro-rated fees such as taxes, HOA dues, insurance, and utilities. For the Buyer, this typically means that attorneys fees, lender fees (if any), taxes and fees due to the state and local government, and title insurance premiums will be their responsibility. For some transactions involving a lender, the Buyer’s closing costs may be as much as $10,000, whereas cash transactions may sometimes require $1,000 or less.
Choose the Right Closing Attorney
When you’re closing on a house, you want to make sure everything goes smoothly. That’s why it’s important to choose the right closing attorney. Ultimately, it’s important that they’re familiar with the particular laws, rules, and customs of your area.
Make sure that they are organized, attentive to details, and sensitive to the significance of your transactions. If that’s what you’re looking for then we suggest that you schedule a consultation at Conger and Smith.
As one of the leading real estate law firms in Georgia, our team has the qualifications and experience necessary to handle all manner of real estate transactions. Our attorneys have been helping our valued clients with closing their real estate transactions for over 40 years and we’d be more than happy to help you through your home closing process.
Get in touch to schedule your consultation today!
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney (also known as a POA) is a legal delegation of authority from one person (the Principal) to another (the Agent) so that the Agent may act on the Principal’s behalf. A POA is a binding document that can be used for a variety of purposes, including handling financial matters, making medical decisions, or, as often comes up in our offices, conducting real estate transactions.
You can give power of attorney to a family member, friend, or any other third party that you deem trustworthy. Your Agent (known officially as your “attorney-in-fact”) will owe you a fiduciary duty. This means that your Agent can only act in your best interests.
Because a power of attorney gives the Agent legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, though, it is important to be protective of what rights you grant and to whom you grant those rights. Do note that you can revoke power of attorney by sending written notice to the agent. And you can do that at any time.
When Do You Use a Power of Attorney?
The most common situations where you might need to give someone else power of attorney are:
- If you’re going overseas for an extended period of time and need someone to manage your affairs in your absence;
- If you’re unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or injury; or
- If you have financial or business interests you need someone else to manage on your behalf.
Giving someone power of attorney can be a big decision, so it’s important to choose someone you trust and who will act in your best interests. You should also have a clear idea of what authority you’re giving them, and what they’ll be responsible for.
Also keep in mind that there are many different types of power of attorney, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs. For instance, a limited POA only grants the agent authority to perform specific tasks, while a general POA gives them more broad powers.
Ultimately, deciding which type of POA to use is up to you. Consulting with a real estate attorney can help make that decision easier, though.
What Should a Power of Attorney for a Real Estate Transaction Include?
A POA for real estate matters can come in all shapes and sizes. This includes everything from authorizing your Agent to perform extremely limited duties, such as correcting minor errors and typos in transactional documents, to granting your Agent general authority to act fully on your behalf in financial matters of any kind.
In our practice, it is not uncommon that a Principal may grant powers for an Agent to execute all documents necessary to conduct a real estate transaction, but, the powers may be limited to only a specific piece of property and, maybe, even for a specific price.
Because of the potential legal implications, it’s important that you are aware of the powers granted in any given power of attorney that you are presented with.
Under Georgia Statute, a valid POA requires:
- A signature by the Principal OR by another individual in the Principal’s presence at the Principal’s express direction;
- Attested in the presence of the Principal by a competent witness who is not named as an agent in the power of attorney;
- Attested in the presence of a judge of a court of record OR (more commonly) by a notary public; and,
- The Principal must be competent at the time that the power of attorney is executed.
Whenever a POA is necessary for a transaction in our office, we will prepare it for your review, will tailor it specifically to meet your needs, and will advise you regarding the proper execution and use of it.