Whether an attorney needs to be present at a real estate closing varies by state. New York Judiciary Law § 484 specifies that the Empire State requires a licensed attorney to preside over all real estate closings.
If you are skeptical about the need to have a real estate attorney present at your closing, and you see it as nothing more than another expense, you’re mistaken. A real estate attorney serves a valuable role in protecting your interests at every step of the real estate transaction process.
How does a real estate attorney protect your interests?
Some various checks and balances must occur leading up to a real estate closing, including:
- Title searches
- Inspections of deeds and the home
- Zoning surveys
There might also be outstanding liens or encumbrances on the property that warrant debt settlement negotiations. Financing issues may also arise, warranting further conversations or even the termination of a contract. Real estate attorneys can help you navigate the above-referenced situations.
Buyers put up escrow funds when making an offer. Those monies are held for safekeeping. Even larger sums of money exchange hands at the closing. Attorneys are fiduciaries, which means they’re held to a higher standard to protect individuals’ financial interests. They have a responsibility to ensure that you pay your fair share and understand where the money goes.
How can you identify an ideal real estate closing attorney?
You may want to find out the following of any attorney you’re considering:
- How long have they been practicing real estate law?
- What benefits can they offer in reviewing your real estate contract?
- How do they typically handle any issues or disputes that arise?
- What type of service can you expect them to provide during the closing process?
- Do they personally handle closings or have a paralegal do it?
- What is their pricing structure for their services?
The responses that your prospective real estate attorney provides should ultimately sit well with you for you to move forward and do business with them. It will give you great assurance in knowing that you have the support you need if something goes awry.