Why You Should Use an Attorney for a Real Estate Closing
Florida does not require that attorneys be present during any stage of a real estate transaction. However, both the contract stage and the closing of the deal are important phases of the process. Although most realtors use a form FL/BAR contract, there are many blanks to be filled in and the boilerplate wording is fraught with issues that need to be discussed and possibly revised. During the closing process, both parties exchange a variety of different documents which, if completed incorrectly, could significantly delay the finalization of the transaction, allocate the proceeds incorrectly or leave a title issue unaddressed.
Most real estate transactions require the preparation of multiple documents during closing, including:
- A contract between the buyer and the seller;
- A deed authorizing the transfer of the property;
- A closing statement describing the costs of the sale;
- A loan estimate; and
- Documentation listing the necessary disclosures.
The contract between the parties should include not only the price, but also a description of any easements, restrictions, or known defects on the property. Having a lawyer’s advice on the terms of the contract can be invaluable.
An easement is the right to use someone else’s land, and a poorly worded contract excluding any information about an existing easement could lead to later disputes between the new owners and another party about the easement’s scope, location, or existence.
A contract that has not been reviewed by a legal professional may also lack the necessary details required to clearly delineate property boundaries. Any later legal disputes between the new owners and their neighbors could be costly and could also require a court to re-draw the boundary lines.
Researching a property’s background, including past ownership, is an important part of any real estate transaction. Often, title companies alone do the necessary research, but retaining an attorney to do an in-depth search of his or her own, on behalf of the buyer, will ensure that no details are overlooked.
For instance, an attorney may find information indicating that the seller does not have the legal right to transfer ownership of the property. Alternatively, if a title is improperly researched, two or more people may later claim that they both retain ownership of the property. In such a scenario, a judge will need to make a final decision on ownership, a process that could take several months and cost thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The closing stages of a real estate transaction conclude the most important financial decision that many homeowners will ever make. At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, located in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach, we can help the process be as stress-free as possible by ensuring that your closing goes smoothly. Please contact us for a free consultation.