A closing attorney is the real estate lawyer that works with the buyer and lender during the purchase or refinance of a home. Closing attorneys play a crucial role in the home-buying process in Massachusetts. They review contracts, ensure that the transfer of title is valid, and protect the interests of the buyer and lender. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the responsibilities of a Massachusetts closing attorney and why you need one if you are buying a home.
Negotiate the Purchase and Sale Agreement
A closing attorney in Massachusetts will review the contract between the buyer and the seller called a Purchase and Sale Agreement. This is the second contract in the process with the first being the Offer to Purchase. The purchase and sale agreement will replace and void the offer to purchase. However, it should reflect the main points of the offer and contingencies that were reserved. It simply expands on these items with more detailed language.
The offer to purchase solidifies the main points of the agreement while the purchase and sale agreement is the final contract. The closing attorney helps to ensure that customary provisions are included and negotiated on behalf of the buyer. More importantly, they help ensure that the seller’s attorney does not include non-standard, harmful provisions as part of the agreement. Finally, during this contract phase of the closing process, the closing attorney explains the purchase and sale agreement’s terms and conditions to the home buyer.
Title Exam, Plot Plan and Tax Lien Search
After the purchase and sale agreement has been signed, the closing attorney will move on to the “title” due diligence phase of the process. The closing attorney starts by ordering a limited survey of the boundary lines called a plot plan. This is to check for any encroachments on the property (for example, a shed that straddles the property line). Additionally, the attorney conducts a title search to help ensure the property’s title is clear and that there are no problematic liens or encumbrances. This title search includes a review of property tax records, mortgages, and other legal documents filed at the County Registry of Deeds.
All liens must be paid off at closing by deducting any needed funds from the seller’s proceeds. Therefore, it is imperative to have an accurate assessment of what liens exist. The closing attorney also coordinates with a title insurance company to insure the title to the property.
Prepare Mortgage Closing Documents
The next phase of the transaction is preparing for closing. During this phase, the closing attorney works with the borrower’s lender to review and/or assist with preparing several key documents. This includes the mortgage, promissory note, deed, Closing Disclosure, settlement statement, and several other documents. The closing attorney will review and explain these documents to the borrower during their real estate closing. A closing appointment, typically takes one hour or less to complete. After all necessary documents are signed, the closing attorneys records several key documents at the Registry of Deeds to complete the transaction.
Handle Funds and Disbursements
The closing attorney is also the party responsible for handling all of the funds for closing. This often involves both receiving and sending wire transfers. Once all necessary documents have been recorded at the Registry of Deeds, the closing attorney disburses all checks and the seller’s proceeds.
A Massachusetts closing attorney plays a critical role in the home-buying process, helping to ensure that the transfer of ownership is legal and valid and that the interests of their clients are protected. Contact the real estate lawyers at Silveri + Wilson | Halcyon Closing + Escrow if we can assist you with the process of buying a home.