Your home is a valuable asset and so is your attorney. Do not let anyone tell you that you do not need and attorney, otherwise who will be representing YOU!!
You can hire either a non lawyer title agency or an attorney to handle the closing and provide title insurance. The cost is about the same and, with an attorney, you have the benefit of legal representation!
Your realtor’s job is to bring together a buyer and seller to effectuate a sale. The realtor is not trained or qualified to give you legal advice and, therefore, does not represent you. The title company, likewise, cannot give legal advice and does not represent you either. Rather, it represents the title underwriter. Who at the closing table represents you if not your attorney?
With the state of the economy and the housing industry there is no such thing as a “simple closing” anymore. Complex title issues arise, especially if title came out of a bankruptcy, short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure or a foreclosure. Bank owned property (REO) present additional challenges, especially at the time of signing the contract and the banks REO addendum. Titles coming through an estate or a trust also require additional scrutiny. Foreign sellers and buyers have additional issues to deal with when purchasing a home in Florida.
“Well, I have a title policy to protect me.” Maybe!! A title policy may ensure against loss you may incur. It does not insure the underlying title defect or insure future depreciation of your property. The last thing you want is to have to defend yourself against a title claim for property you sold or have to deal with a title defect on property you bought. Furthermore, the title policy would have numerous exceptions listed. Only an attorney is trained and knowledgeable to examine your title and the title exceptions in order to protect your interest.
Your real estate attorney can also prepare and review the contract, prepare all closing documents, advice as to any income, estate or gift tax implications, the best way to hold title and how to maximize asset protection.
Whether buying or selling a home in Florida, the earlier you retain an attorney the better. Do not sign a contract without your attorney’s review. At the very least, write in a contingency clause requiring your attorney’s approval.
With all that is involved in the real estate closing – your home, your money, your peace of mind – hiring an attorney is one of the wisest things you can do to protect your investment. “DON’T GO DO IT ALONE!”