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Published on December 5, 2023

How to Choose the Right Title Attorney for Your Real Estate Transactions

Real estate attorneys can help ensure that the terms of a contract are in your best interest and meet legal requirements. They also conduct a title examination to identify the status of a seller’s property and any liens or violations that must be addressed before closing.

A real estate attorney works for you and your interests, whereas a title company only works for the title insurer. This can be a significant difference in how issues are handled and corrected.

Experience

Your attorney should have experience handling real estate transactions, including residential home sales and purchases. These complicated transactions often have a long closing process with many different steps and moving parts. They are also often very time-sensitive. A reasonable attorney should be able to anticipate problems and prevent or resolve them before they cause significant delays.

Your real estate attorney will help you negotiate the contract terms for your sale or purchase and oversee the closing process. Experienced title attorneys can explain the terms of the contract and answer questions about governing law and your legal rights.

Your attorney can also counsel you on issues arising during the title search and closing process, such as liens against the seller or outstanding judgments that must be paid. They can advise you on your options for addressing these problems, such as suggesting that the seller pay off the lien or paying the judgment and providing proof that it has been paid.

Reputation

When hiring a real estate attorney, it is essential to research their reputation. You can ask for recommendations from family members, friends, and coworkers, or you may do a Google search (with proper vetting).

An attorney’s reputation indicates competence, professionalism, and dedication to the law. They should be easily accessible, responsive, and willing to answer questions.

Lawyers with a good reputation often specialize in specific areas of the law, such as real estate. They also tend to have a more thorough knowledge of real estate law than title insurance companies, which means they can better protect their client’s interests.

Fees

Using a real estate attorney instead of the title company is often more cost-effective for buyers and sellers. Attorney opinions are less expensive than title insurance premiums and offer more specificity and a deeper analysis of a property’s title status.

A real estate attorney also does a more thorough background investigation of the property than the title company, which helps reduce the risk of title defects. When title defects are discovered, attorneys are self-interested in protecting their clients by addressing the problem rather than simply increasing premiums.

Additionally, an experienced attorney can prepare contract addenda and non-standard legal documents for a real estate transaction that the title company cannot do because they would be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. This can save parties significant time and money in a real estate closing. Moreover, an attorney can help ensure that all parties are aware of any additional fees associated with the sale before closing.

Specialization

Economic specialization is becoming a master in one product or service to gain an edge over competitors. When a business specializes, it can attract customers and create loyalty as an expert in the industry. Specialization also allows firms to increase profits and revenue by creating economies of scale.

The attorneys are experts in real estate law and have the training, education, and experience to give sound legal advice and complete any real estate transaction. They have the unique ability to spot issues early on that, if not resolved, can kill a sale or cause costly problems post-closing. For example, a home inspection may reveal issues that need to be addressed or title defects that need to be cleared up. They can also draft contract addenda or non-standard legal documents that a title company cannot because it would constitute the unauthorized practice of law. Choosing an attorney is the safest and most cost-efficient way to complete a real estate transaction.


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