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The Role and Responsibilities of a Closing Attorney

The process of closing a real estate deal, whether commercial or residential, consists of many moving parts.  Once a buyer finds a property they would like to purchase, there are a number of steps that have to be taken such as appraising the property, conducting a title search and a physical inspection. Closing attorneys representing the various parties in the transaction ensure that all of the steps required to complete a transaction happen in a timely and legally compliant manner.

While the term “closing attorney” is the most common, these legal professionals with experience closing real estate transactions are also known by different names.  Typical alternatives are “settlement agent”, “escrow agent” or simply “real estate attorney”. Despite the different names that can be used, these attorneys all perform the same functions.

The Role of a Closing Attorney

As the name implies, a closing attorney works with their client to prepare, review and organize the documentation related to a real estate transaction.  They also oversee the various steps in the process to make sure that the transaction goes smoothly.  Although in many states a closing attorney is required to be present at the time and place a real estate transaction occurs, this is not mandatory in Florida.  Nevertheless, due to the benefits of doing so, many people in Florida still choose to have their closing attorney attend their real estate closings.

The buyers, sellers and lenders would each typically have their own real estate closing attorneys to represent them in a real estate transaction. 

Responsibilities of a Closing Attorney

The varied role of the closing attorney involves document management, legal compliance, fiduciary duties and conducting historical document searches. In any typical transaction, the closing attorney will:

Conduct A Title Search and Obtain Title Insurance

One of the first steps a closing attorney takes in a real estate transaction is to perform a title search.  In doing so, the attorney investigates a property’s chain of title to uncover easements, liens or other “clouds”. By doing so, the closing attorney gives the buyer and lender confidence that their investment will not be negatively affected by occurrences in the property’s past.  If there are any clouds on the property, the closing attorney will work to resolve them in order for the transaction to take place.

Once the title search has been conducted, a closing attorney will present their opinion of title to a title insurance company to cover the buyer of the transaction. 

What is title insurance?

Manage Transactional Documentation

Closing attorneys organize and schedule the completion of important documents that are necessary for a real estate transaction to occur. Depending on the transaction, these may include:

  • Property inspection reports
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) documentation required for a property’s sale
  • Property insurance policies
  • Property warranty information

Prepare or Review Closing Documents

All closing attorneys aid their clients in interpreting the often legalistic language of real estate transactional documents. After that, the specific duties of each closing attorney depend on who they represent in a transaction.   For example, the seller’s closing attorney typically drafts the initial property sales contract. The buyer’s attorney, on the other hand, reviews the contract with the buyer’s interest in mind and negotiates with the seller’s closing attorney to change, add or remove items. 

Distribute Funds

Closing attorneys have a fiduciary duty to manage the flow of money in a transaction, ensuring that funds disbursed from the escrow account go to the intended parties.  This often includes more than simply transferring money from the buyer to the seller.  There may be a number of different parties to pay in the process of selling a home or commercial property.

View the typical closing costs for Florida transactions

What Does A Closing Attorney Cost?

In Florida, closing attorney fees vary according to the amount of work they perform.  Whether the closing attorney represents the buyer, seller or lender is another factor in the cost. Sometimes a contract will state that a certain party (usually the buyer or seller) will be responsible for paying all closing costs, including those of the closing attorney. For residential closing services, a typical range for closing attorney’s fees is between $750 and $1,500. Commercial transactions tend to be more complex and can incur considerably higher fees.

“All closing attorneys aid their clients in interpreting the often legalistic language of real estate transactional document.”

The Importance of An Attorney

Closing attorneys can be a huge asset to ensure a closing runs smoothly, and it’s a great idea to have one present even if it is not required by law in the state you’re selling or purchasing real estate in. Staying informed about all the various roles and processes that a home sale entails is critical, so be sure to read more home selling tips in the Rocket Homes℠ Home Seller’s Guide.

South Florida Law

South Florida law is a full-service real estate closing law firm that can support both residential and commercial closings. In addition to being a closing attorney, South Florida law is also a title insurance agency. This makes South Florida Law a one-stop shop for all of your real estate transaction needs.

South Florida Law, specializes in conducting title searches on the part of buyers and lenders to ensure the smoothest transaction possible.

South Florida Law, PLLC attorneys have years of experience in handling real estate closing-related matters to facilitate successful real estate transactions. Having our attorneys at your side in a residential or commercial property transaction gives you the advantage of proactive legal protection.

If you are looking for a real estate closing attorney or a title insurance agency, call us today at (954) 900-8885 or reach out to us via our contact form.

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