Is it worth it to hire a real estate attorney when you’re buying or selling a property in Texas? What do real estate attorneys do? We know many Austin-area residents ask themselves these questions. While in a straightforward transaction, an attorney might not be needed, there’s no way of knowing if your purchase or sale will go off without a hitch or if there are major complications headed your way. That’s why it makes sense to hire a real estate attorney for any transaction. Here’s what real estate attorneys do for a closing.
Examining the Title
One of the most complex pieces of any real estate transaction is examining the title. This happens behind the scenes, so most buyers and sellers are unaware of the steps involved, but it’s essential for a sale or purchase to go smoothly. A real estate attorney has the expertise to get the job done right.
When you purchase real estate, what you’re purchasing is its title—the right to use the property. Then, assuming you eventually decide to sell your property at some point, the title is transferred to its new owner. This might sound straightforward, but what happens if a couple divorces? If a property is inherited by six adult children, who then pass it down to their children? How do you find all the times in which title to a property changed hands when not all of these records are readily available online?
The purpose of examining title is to ensure that no one other than the seller has claim to the property and that there are no easements, restrictions, encroachments, liens, or judgments.
Coordinating the Closing
Real estate attorneys negotiate all of the necessary details for closing—the dates, the amount of money needed to close, and any credits or repairs that are needed in order for the sale to go through. In addition to communicating with each other, real estate attorneys loop in the buyer, seller, real estate agents, lender, brokers, home inspectors, and anyone else involved in the sale process. As a final step in coordinating the closing, a real estate attorney prepares the settlement statement.
When the time has finally come to close the deal, your real estate attorney will go over all of the documents and contracts with you before you sign them. It’s never a good idea to sign anything you don’t understand, which is why having a real estate attorney is important, particularly if you’re a first-time homebuyer.
Recording and Disbursing Funds
Real estate attorneys review the title and deed again during the closing. The attorney pays the title company, then distributes fees to all of the parties involved in the transaction—the real estate agents, brokers, inspectors, etc. The lender is paid for any amount remaining on the mortgage and the seller receives the balance.