You’re buying a house in South Carolina. You have an agent, you’ve picked out your new home, and all that is left is to get through the closing process. Of course, this can be easier said than done. While many home purchases go off without a hitch, homebuyers do occasionally run into issues. An attorney can help, but is it worth it to hire one?
Understanding Your Attorney’s Role in the Residential Closing Process
There are many ways that an attorney can help with your South Carolina home purchase, and you are required to hire an attorney to conduct a title search. If you are preparing to buy a home in the Charleston area or anywhere else in the Palmetto State, here is a list of the ten main ways an experienced residential real estate closing attorney can assist during the process:
1. Collecting All Required Information
Buying a home involves lots of documents and information. An experienced closing attorney will be able to help you gather all of the information you need to provide to the seller and your lender, and he or she will be able to help ensure that you receive all of the information you are legally entitled to receive as well. If you have an existing home that you are planning to sell, your attorney can also assist with your loan payoff and various other aspects of selling your old house.
2. Examining the title to the Property
You will most likely want to ensure that you are receiving a “clear title” to your new home, and the way to do this is by hiring an attorney to conduct a title search. As we mentioned, this is actually a requirement in South Carolina. There are some unique issues that can come up in South Carolina as well, and an attorney who has local experience will be able to help you navigate any problems that may arise.
3. Reviewing the Sales Contract and Survey
While residential purchase agreements are primarily standardized, there are still some potential issues that require careful consideration. Your attorney will be able to review the sales contract in detail and advise you of any provisions that need negotiating. If you decide to order a survey, your attorney will also be able to review the survey to determine if the legal description of the property in the sales contract is accurate.
4. Revising the Legal Description of the Property
If the legal description of the property is not accurate, your attorney can revise the description so that it accurately reflects the boundary lines of the property you are buying. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed before you go to closing.
5. Reviewing Insurance
Even with a comprehensive title search, it is still possible for title defects to exist. This is why banks generally require buyers to purchase lender’s title insurance, and it is why buyers should also generally purchase their own title insurance policies. Your attorney will be able to review your title insurance policies to ensure that they are sufficient, and, if desired, your attorney can able to help you with purchasing appropriate home and flood insurance as well.
6. Dealing with Contingencies
Homebuyers will typically add a few different contingencies to their sales contracts. While the hope is that these contingencies will simply expire, occasionally, they come into play. If you need to exercise a contingency clause to back out of the deal, your attorney can help you do so without exposing yourself to any potential liability.
7. Assembling the Closing Package
Once you get through the loan application process, you have acquired all necessary insurance policies, and all contingencies have expired, it is time to get ready for closing. Once again, there are lots of documents involved, and your attorney can make sure that all of the required documents find their way to the closing table.
8. Representing You at Closing
At closing, your attorney will walk you through each of the documents step by step, explaining what they mean and telling you where to sign. Your attorney can answer any lingering questions you may have, and he or she can ensure that everything has been done that is required in order to transfer ownership of the property.
9. Disbursing Escrowed Funds and Finalizing the Transaction
Once you close, the only thing left for you to do is collect the keys and move into your new home. But, in the background, there is still some work to be done. Specifically, your attorney will need to deal with disbursing any escrowed funds and take various other steps in order to finalize the transaction legally.
10. Confirming the Deed to Your New Home Has Been Properly Recorded
Finally, once everything has been done, the last step is for your attorney to make sure that the deed to your new home has been properly recorded. This will further mitigate the risk of any title disputes, and it will allow you to start your new life in your new home secure in the fact that you legally own the property.
Should You Choose Your Own Attorney for Your Residential Home Purchase in South Carolina?
In the Charleston-area real estate market (as in most markets), real estate agents and brokers often have preferred inspectors, lenders, and attorneys to whom they refer their clients. While you absolutely can use your agent’s preferred attorney, you do not have to do so. While your attorney’s role may seem fairly routine, the reality is that your choice of attorneys matters. So, before you commit, it is a good idea to do some due diligence and make sure you are choosing an attorney who has the experience needed to protect your investment.
Contact Summerville, SC Residential Real Estate Closing Attorney Patrick R. Watts
Patrick R. Watts is a Summerville, SC residential real estate attorney who has been representing clients locally for the past 35 years. If you have questions and would like to speak with Mr. Watts about your home purchase, you can call 843-851-7050 or inquire online for a confidential consultation.