Monday, January 21, 2008

What To Expect in a Real Estate Closing

Conducting a real estate closing is regarded as the practice of law by the South Carolina Supreme Court. As a result, all parties in a South Carolina real estate transaction must be represented by counsel. It is permissible for the parties to engage the same attorney in a dual representation capacity provided that each party agrees in writing and consents to the conflict of interest involved. However, this is not advisable in the purchase or sale of your home and you are encouraged to engage your own attorney.

Your closing attorney's task is to conduct the title examination and prepare all documents for settlement. If you are a purchaser and financing is involved in your transaction, your attorney will coordinate with your lender. Your law firm will also likely be able to assist you in obtaining title insurance. You will receive finalized documents for your execution either through the mail from your attorney or by personally meeting with your attorney. In some instances, you may also authorize your attorney to execute all documents on your behalf via a power-of-attorney. The documents presented to you at closing will include an itemized settlement statement which will fully address all financial aspects of the closing such as proration of taxes, assessments, etc. All funds in the transaction will be channeled through your law firm's escrow accounts.

As a purchaser of real estate, you will likely be asked by your attorney to provide applicable information. This will include the manner of holding title, anticipated insurance provider and your plans, if any, to finance your acquisition.

As the seller of real estate, you will need to provide the names of any lenders that hold a mortgage on your property.

The process will be guided by your attorney. You may initiate the process by identifying your attorney and asking your real estate agent to provide the sales contract to your attorney. You can anticipate that your attorney will contact you and specifically request relevant information and materials.

The local custom in South Carolina is for each party to meet with an attorney individually. Contrary what you may have experienced in other states, it is very likely that you will never meet the purchaser of the home you are selling or the seller of the home that you are acquiring.

There is value in selecting a law firm that has the resources to handle a number of your needs and is willing to stand behind its work. Although the vast majority of real estate transactions proceed smoothly to closing, it is helpful to have a firm that handles a variety of matters including litigation in the event that you have a difficulty arise. If you are moving to South Carolina, there is value in having a law firm that is able to handle any corporate and estate planning work that needs to be reviewed for compliance with South Carolina law.

If you have further questions or concerns relating to your real estate needs, attorney Bret Pruehs with McNair Law Firm on Hilton Head Island, SC will be glad to answer your personal questions. Bret is available at 843.785.2171 or at

1 comment:

Doug Miller said...

Just make sure it isn't your attorney selling you the title insurance. There are many people who feel that not only does this violate their Code of Ethics, but that selling title insurance to a client creates an insurmountable conflict of interest.

No longer is the attorney without bias as to whether or not your transaction closes. If your attorney is selling a client title insurance, they only get paid their title insurance commission if the transaction closes.

Does something sound odd about an attorney collecting a commission for selling their clients title insurance? It should. Attorneys need to avoid conflicts of interest and selling title insurance is akin to self dealing.

So have your attorney help you shop and compare title insurance prices, products and service of a vendor who sells it. Insist that your attorney make a full disclosure of all fees they are earning from your transaction. You have that right.

Doug Miller