The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires an attorney to supervise all real estate transactions to ensure that the funds are properly disbursed. If you are applying for a mortgage the mortgage attorney will need to be approved by the lender, or Mortgage Company, so choose one that is experienced and who can advise you throughout the process of buying a home, not just at the closing. When certain issues arise you do not want a delay or experience a derail of the transaction or even end up having it cost you more money.
The real estate closing process consists of a number of steps, any one of which can present problems.
- Opening Escrow. When the buyer accepts your “Offer to Purchase”, escrow is opened, meaning that a neutral party collects the earnest money you submitted to hold in an account until closing, tracks and holds documents, and issues instructions to the parties.
- Purchase and Sales Agreement. After the “Offer to Purchase” is accepted and agreed to by the Seller and the Buyer, an Attorney will prepare a Purchase and Sales Agreement which will memorialize all details of the legal transaction. This is a very important document which solidifies all aspects of the conveyances procedures that the Seller and Buyer have agreed to, it is binding to all parties, and can be used in a court of law if disputes arise and a party defaults in its promises to the other.
- Title Search. You need clear title and title insurance since a title defect can delay the sale or cause a lender to refuse financing until the defect has been cleared. Your real estate lawyer can assist you by researching certain documents to look for these types of issues. If title is clear, your closing attorney can issue title insurance guaranteeing clear title and transfer. You will also need a homeowner’s policy that your attorney can help you secure.
- Closing Costs. Before the closing, you will receive a GFE, or Good Faith Estimate, of the closing costs that should be compared to the HUD Settlement Statement. These vary greatly with many escrow companies charging non-essential costs that your lawyer can negotiate and save you from incurring.
- Inspections. Home inspections can reveal hidden defects or ones the seller “forgot” about or felt were not material to the sale. A pest inspection is not required but if there are termites, these can easily cause thousands of dollars in damages. If material flaws are found, you could back out of the transaction, have your lawyer renegotiate the sales price, or insist that the seller repair the defect prior to closing.
- Remove Contingencies. Before the transaction is completed, certain conditions, or contingencies, must be met and then removed from consideration before the transaction can become binding on the parties. These include acquiring particular financing within a certain time, performing inspections by a certain date and passing the inspections, removing clouds on title, making sure the appraisal is at a certain minimum value and any other conditions. Your real estate lawyer can insist that certain contingencies be included in the contract based on the property or parties involved.
- Fund Escrow. Submit the remainder of the down payment and ensure the closing costs are paid.
- Final Walkthrough. This is necessary to ensure that no changes to the property have occurred since escrow opened or since the last time you inspected the house. If there are problems, your attorney can discuss them with the seller and see if the seller will remedy them, renegotiate the price or if you can simply walk away.
- Closing. Your attorney will carefully scrutinize the HUD Settlement Statement and see if all costs, taxes and other expenses have been paid and that the sales contract has been followed. Funds are disbursed, the deed is transferred and subsequently filed and you may be given the keys to your new home at the closing or shortly thereafter.
Retain Real Estate Lawyer Patricia Bloom-McDonald
Attorney Patricia Bloom-McDonald has been handling real estate transactions for her clients for more than 20 years. Obtaining the trust and confidence of her clients has been the most important consideration of her practice while representing the interests of both buyers and sellers. Buying a home may be the most significant financial transaction in your life, so having an attorney who can advise you and ensure a smooth and efficient closing process can give you the reassurance and satisfaction you are seeking while finding the home you want. Call her today at (781) 713-4709 or (508) 636-6097 to discuss your real estate needs.