Who Does the Closing Attorney Represent in Georgia? And Other Common Questions about Real Estate Closing

 

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Real Estate Closing Law

Are you planning on buying or selling property in Georgia? If so, then you might be wondering Who does the closing attorney represent in Georgia? This article looks at this and much more.

Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Faulkner Law, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on June 03, 2022.

You have to consider several things when buying a house. Almost everyone thinks about the home’s location, design, and features.

But not as many people consider the laws that affect real estate transactions, although this is a crucial piece of the home-buying process. All 50 states in the United States have their own laws that affect how real estate transactions occur.

Understanding these laws can give you an edge in your real estate transaction and prevent you from making mistakes that may cost you dearly.

The Process of Real Estate Closings

The following are some crucial steps that happen during real estate closings according to Georgia law:

Signing the Contract

Real estate closing begins in Georgia when the seller and the buyer agree to sign the final purchase and sale contract. The contract usually contains details concerning the terms of the real estate transaction.

This includes the real estate closing date, purchase price, the value of the earnest money, any closing fees to be paid by the seller, and other contingencies. Contingencies can come as appraisal contingencies or financing contingencies.

 

Due Diligence Period

The due diligence period in Georgia is that period between the purchase and sale contract where the buyers can conduct property inspections if necessary. People encourage buyers to hire professional real estate brokers to help them with the inspections for this stage to be successful.

If the buyer finds any unwanted findings or needs for repairs during the inspections, he can revoke a negotiation or termination clause that is usually a part of the contract. The negotiation clause can have the seller adjust the cost of the property to accommodate the flaws in his property.

Sometimes, the buyer may decide to keep the property despite the issues. However, he might negotiate a lower purchase price considering the needed repairs he discovered during the due diligence period.

 

Property Appraisal

In Georgia, lenders commonly require a property appraisal to provide funds to a buyer. After the due diligence period has passed, a lender will order a property appraisal report to determine the property’s market value. By Georgian law, property appraisals must be done by persons that have the license to do so.

If a property appraisal ordered by the lender appraises the property at a value that the lender feels is too low, the lender may refuse to provide funding to the buyer. As a result, purchase and sale contracts are expected to include a clause subject to an appraisal accepted by the lender.

 

Title Search

First, the closing attorney will order a title search on the acquired property. A title search is performed for various reasons, including:

  1. To confirm the legal owners of the property.
  2. To establish whether the seller pays off debts or mortgages for the purchaser to gain clear title to the property.

 

Title Insurance

After completing the title search, the closing agent will provide a commitment for title insurance (or title binder) to the lender and the buyer, outlining the requirements at closing. Any issues with the property’s title should be noted on the pledge, so it’s always good to get a copy.

All institutional lenders backing traditional mortgage loans require the buyer to obtain a lender’s title insurance, which protects the lender’s investment in the event of a future title difficulty.

Buyers also can purchase an owner’s title insurance policy to safeguard their ownership interest in the property. As the title insurance company’s agent, the closing attorney can explain the nuances of title insurance and its advantages in further detail at or before closing.

 

Closing Ceremony

The attorney will draft the closing documentation and arrange for the closing ceremony after the lender has notified the necessary parties that the loan is ready to close.

The lender should give the buyer a closing disclosure outlining the loan conditions three working days before closing. Among these words are:

  • Monthly payments
  • Closing expenses
  • Additional monies are required at the time of closing.

The closing ceremony is usually over in less than an hour. During the closing ceremony, the attorney will explain the closing paperwork to both the seller and buyer and address any questions they may have.

At this point, you will see the need to hire a trusted Georgia real estate lawyer because the attorney will receive any closing funds that will be held in the attorney’s trust account at this ceremony.

Does Georgia Require an Attorney at Closing?

Every real estate closing in Georgia should be monitored by a Georgia real estate closing attorney. The real estate attorney should be physically present at the closure and retain control of the closing process from beginning to end.

The following information explains the functions of Georgia real estate attorneys in the closing process.

 

The Attorney’s Role in the Closing Process

 

In Georgia, the attorney who oversees the real estate closing process represents the lender, not the buyer or seller. Although the closing attorney represents the lender in the transaction, they owe it to all parties to execute the closure as quickly as possible.

Before signing, the closing attorney often presents the contents of all pertinent papers to the buyer and seller. Moreover, while counsel frequently represents purchasers and sellers during the real estate acquisition and sale process, the closing attorney manages the closing independently and gets no assistance from other legal professionals. However, both the buyer and seller may be represented by legal counsel at the closing.

The attorney’s position in the closing process is governed by both federal and state law. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) is the federal statute that addresses this issue, while local Georgia real estate licensing law defines additional state-specific standards.

When you hire an experienced licensed Georgia Attorney, they will do the following, as required by federal and state law:

  • Ensure that all relevant papers, such as affidavits and deeds, are handed to the right persons.
  • Prepare the closing statement or settlement agreement.
  • Ensure that all paperwork is done correctly.
  • Distribute monies per the closing statement.

Does the Buyer Have to Be Present at Closing in Georgia?

Whether you will appear during the closing depends on the circumstances of the property sale. Georgia law requires that the person whose name appears on the loan or title of the property should be there during the closing.

Usually, the closing attorney will reach out to all persons concerned and their agents to schedule the closing process. If you are not available for the closing ceremony, you can speak with the attorney so he can make necessary arrangements like preparing a power of attorney on your behalf. It’s always good to have a communicative Attorney-Client relationship.

 

How Much Does a Closing Attorney Cost in Georgia?

 

In Georgia, the buyer is usually responsible for paying this cost. However, like most other fees you will pay, you can negotiate a reasonable price with the attorney. Ensure that you clarify this in the purchase agreement so that you know what costs to expect.

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