The benefits of hiring a real estate closing attorney

Purchasing a home or business property is one of the largest investments a person can make. As part of the process of closing on a property, the buyer must ensure that title to the property is transferred correctly. If there are issues, disputes or discrepancies to the title of the property, it can affect resale or result in future litigation. Such issues can be time consuming and expensive to resolve after the purchase is completed. A real estate closing attorney can ensure that what the buyer is paying for at closing, he or she gets.

Unfortunately conducting a title search is more than just a formality. It has been estimated that as many as 36 percent of all residential real estate has title issues.

A title search involves inspecting public documents related to the title of the property. Among other issues, a title attorney looks for outstanding liens or claims to the property. A buyer wants the property to be "free and clear" of any encumbrances. In other words, the buyer wants to know the agreed-upon purchase price will be for the entirety of the property, without any legal obstacles or outstanding legal issues or claims. If there are doubts regarding the title, then the purchaser should be able to receive the property at a lowered value.

Potential pitfalls

The title to a property can have a variety of issues. The previous owner may have federal or state tax liens on the property, for example, meaning the IRS could seize the property. Previous work done on the property could have come with a mechanic's lien. There could also be separate claims to the property by heirs. The building may have a zoning violation and therefore require expensive modifications. There could be issues with property boundaries or third-party easements. All of these issues can be discovered by a title attorney before purchasing.

What a real estate closing attorney can do

A title company can conduct a thorough title search on behalf of a buyer. However, an attorney that specializes in real estate law can help with issues above and beyond a title search. A real estate attorney can review closing documents, the purchase contract and other associated paperwork. An attorney can also provide legal advice related to the title of the property. For example, an attorney can advise a purchaser on who has the authority to sell the property if the property being considered is an inheritance or is in dispute.

Those looking to purchase real estate should consult with an experienced real estate closing attorney to discuss how a law firm can assist in the purchase of a home.