Why do I need a real estate attorney?
A real estate closing is a legal proceeding that must be conducted by a licensed attorney. In South Carolina the buyer chooses the closing attorney and your choice should be communicated to your mortgage banker. The attorney will examine the property title records for prior conveyances, liens, encumbrances and errors in the deeds within the chain of title. Your real estate closing attorney will prepare the necessary documents and those you sign may include the contract of sale, a promissory note, mortgage, settlement statement and deed as well as other documents. Your attorney will examine all documents to be sure that your rights are protected as well as explain any items you don’t understand.Back to Index
What happens at closing?
During a closing, the real estate title is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Closing takes between one and two hours, depending on the complexity of the transaction and the experience of the buyers and sellers. The seller executes all documents that transfer property title to the buyer and buyer signs any needed loan documents to purchase the property. Both parties should bring photo identification with them to the closing. The seller must bring all property keys, any garage door or gate openers and any other information the buyer will need in their new home. The buyer must bring all the funds necessary to close the real estate transaction by either bringing a cashier’s check to the closing or by wiring the appropriate funds before closing.Back to Index
Who pays what at closing?
The real estate contract will dictate who pays which of the closing costs. Typically the buyer is responsible for all costs related to the loan, including bank fees, any required escrow, title insurance for the lender and the buyer (depending on location of property), any required survey, recording fees for the mortgage and taxes on the mortgage/note as well as attorney’s fees. The seller is generally responsible for the realtors’ commissions, title searches, transfer taxes on the deed, and its attorneys’ fees.Back to Index
Why do I need a title search?
A title search is a detailed examination of all public records that affect your property. These documents include past deeds, mortgages, tax records, court records, property and name indices as well as any other pertinent documents. The title search verifies the seller’s interest in the title of the property they are selling as well as their right to sell the property. It will also uncover any claims, liens or title defects that may affect the property. A thorough title search protects everyone since any issues with the title, like unpaid taxes, judgements or outstanding mortgages, are transferred with ownership.Back to Index
What are the ways that I can hold title to my property?
Most real estate property owners hold their title in one of three ways: sole ownership, tenants-in-common or joint tenants. Sole ownership is when there is one property owner and their interest in the property is transferred to their heirs according to the provisions in their Will when they die. Tenants-in-common is when two or more people hold the property title. Each owner’s interest in the property may not be equal but each tenant-in-common has an “undivided interest” in the property. Any of the tenants-in-common may sell their interest in the property to a third party without the consent of the other owners and when one of the tenants-in-common die, their interest in the property is passed to their heirs according to their Will. Joint tenants is the most common form of ownership for married couples, but joint tenants do not have to be married. In a joint tenant arrangement the tenants have automatic right of survivorship, so when one tenant dies their interest in the property automatically transfers to the other tenant.Back to Index
What happens if the parties are not able to close by the closing date in the contract?
Real estate contracts must be completed within a reasonable time unless the contract specifies a firm closing date. Review your contract to see if there are any terms that affect the occurrence and timing of the closing date.Back to Index
What is title insurance?
Title insurance is an insurance policy that insures the status of title in the name of the policy owner (usually the buyer). A title insurance company issues title insurance to you, as the insured, to protect against financial loss related to your title as well as any cost of defending your title in court if there are any future problems with your real estate title. Claims against your real estate title can be long and expensive, so title insurance protects both you and your mortgage lender against future issues. The title insurance premium is a one-time payment and protects you as long as you own or have interest in the covered property.Back to Index