Real Estate FAQs
We try to keep an ongoing list of concise responses to common questions. However, these responses are no substitute for legal advice. Please contact us directly if you have an issue you need assistance with.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Closing in Georgia?
In Georgia, all real estate closings must be conducted by a licensed attorney. This is primarily due to the fact that most real estate closings involve the drafting of a deed conveying property, which is considered the practice of law. However, this requirement also extends to transactions where no conveyance is drafted by the closing attorney, such as in a refinance. Closing attorneys in Georgia do not merely “witness” closings on behalf of financial institutions in order to satisfy the requirement that they be present. The closing attorney also has the obligation to review all of the documents utilized in the closing (such as plats, title abstracts, and closing disclosures) to detect and resolve any errors in the paperwork.
Who Gets to Choose the Closing Attorney?
There is no law that dictates who, between a buyer and seller, has the right choose the closing attorney. This detail is usually up for negotiation and will be spelled out in the sales contract. Many people feel that whoever is paying the closing costs, normally the buyer, should get to choose the closing attorney, but that is not set in stone. Lenders and realtors can sometimes recommend that parties choose an attorney of any “approved list,” but the party choosing the attorney can select anyone they are confident in
What many buyers and sellers don’t realize is that the closing attorney is primarily working on behalf of the lending institution to remove any lienable debts on a property in order to perfect the lender’s security interest. Although the closing attorney has professional duties to the buyer and seller, many people may want to retain independent counsel who would only have their interests in mind.
When Will my Closing be Scheduled?
The timing of the closing is usually most important when it involves a purchase mortgage or refinance. In those cases, the closing date is set by the lender and usually must occur within the “lock period”. The lock period is the time during which the lender guarantees the borrower that financing will be available at a certain rate and point combination. The lock period protects the borrower from fluctuations in interest rates. However, the lender also requires lock period in order to prepare the loan documentation when the interest rate will not change. The lender will generally tell the closing attorney the deadline for the closing, and the attorney must try to get it done on time. If the closing does not occur on schedule, then the lock period could expire, in which case the borrower might end up paying more if interest rates have gone up.
What Do I Need To Bring to my Closing?
Anyone involved as a party to the real estate contract (such as buyers and sellers of a home) should bring photo identification (preferably a driver’s license or state-issued ID). Sometimes, one of the parties may have to bring other documents to the closing to satisfy the sales contract, like a termite letter or proof of a home warranty. The sellers of the home (or an agent acting on their behalf) should also bring the keys, garage door openers, and any other means of access to the home to exchange at the closing
If financing is involved in the closing, then you should have received instructions about how much to wire to our office for your closing costs. If you have not previously wired this amount to our office, you should bring the closing funds with you. Georgia law requires that anything more than $5000 in closing funds must be sent by bank wire (which is referred to as a “good funds” requirement). It is our office’s policy to accept up to $1000 by personal check, and any amount between $1000 and $5000 can be paid at the closing in certified funds. If you bring a certified check for more than you owe for closing costs, our office will reimburse the difference to you after closing.