Why is an attorney involved when a property is sold in Georgia?
Hello, I am Naomi and I am one of the Stewart Sisters. I am a director of Stewart Brokers and also a real estate attorney with Parkway Title. I am often involved in Natalie and Noelle’s real estate transactions when the property is in the final stages of closing.
Georgia law governs any property in Georgia must be transferred with the supervision of a licensed Georgia Attorney. The main purpose of this is for the Attorney to ensure all parties are aware of the terms and conditions of the agreements and transfer, resolve any errors in paperwork, review all documents used in the transaction and explain those items to all parties. The attorney is also responsible for detecting and resolving ambiguities in the title or title defects, and conducting the closing with overall competence. At the closing the attorney is responsible for the receiving and distributing of funds during and after the property closing so that all parties are paid as agreed upon in the Contract. The Attorney is also responsible for the recording of the new ownership in the county records.
Whom does the attorney represent? When the property sale is cash the attorney usually represents the buyers. If a loan is involved the process for closing is much more lengthy for all parties involved due to the loan process. The attorney will then always represent the lender. The buyers or sellers may, if they wish, have their own attorney present but this is not normally the case when a traditional lender is involved. Remember the attorney will also see that the property is closed in accordance to the contract. The easiest way to remember whom the attorney represents: routinely they represent whoever is providing the money to purchase the property.
Who pays for the attorney? The attorney fees are part of the closing costs and have been negotiated in the sales contract. It can be either the sellers or buyers expense or an agreed upon division of costs.
What do I need at Closing? The Attorney will need to verify the identity of the purchaser so please make sure to bring your VALID state or government issued identification (driving license) with you for closing. If you do not have an ID or passport, you will need to bring two pieces of identification. This is most important to ensure against fraud, theft of identity, and to confirm to the lender and all other parties the person who signed the contract is the person at closing. You will also need to ask your lender or the closing attorney how much money to bring if you are a purchaser. If you are buying cash, the amount should be pretty close to the amount you contracted for with added closing costs and taxes. If you are buying with a loan, depending on your down payment and loan process you may be required to wire funds to the closing attorney prior to your closing appointment. This wiring of the funds is very important as most Attorneys in Georgia will not accept funds in anything other than a wire transfer for more than $5000.00, a law enacted a few years ago gives Georgia Attorneys the requirement to take wired funds only for larger amounts to avoid fraud.
How long is the closing? A cash closing will take about 30 minutes to an hour. Double that time with a sale where a loan is needed to purchase. For a loan closing there are about 100-150 more signatures on documents such as the Note and the Security Deed which are required for loans in Georgia.
The main thing to remember during a property closing is to keep calm and carry on! Even if the negotiations, inspections, and details have been stressful up to this point remember: You are now at the closing table and your goal is in sight. Closing day is a happy day and it is everyone’s goal for all parties to be pleased when they sell or buy a home. Relax, enjoy the chocolate, feel free to take one of the blue ink pens and one of my cards. It would be my pleasure to be a part of this new chapter in your life.