Is the title, “Three Lawyers and a House,” the start of another lawyer joke? No, not this time. Buying a house is not usually a funny experience. To the contrary, purchasing real estate is usually quite stressful, because it is often the biggest asset and expense that people will have during their lifetime.
Massachusetts General Law ch. 184, Section 17B states, in part, “The responsibility of the attorney for the Mortgagee (aka the entity or organization who is lending the mortgage, typically a bank or mortgage company) is to protect the interest of the Mortgagee. Mortgagors (the person requesting a mortgage, usually the homeowner) may, at their own expense, engage an attorney of their selection to represent their interests in the (closing) transaction.”
Closing attorneys are usually pretty considerate to buyers and seller during the transaction. They typically are open to resolving any last minute negotiations or disputes; however, they are not obligated to do so.
Hiring an attorney to represent your interest is worth the additional expense; the cost is usually minimal, especially considering the overall expense of purchasing a home. What makes it so important to have someone on your side?
1. Buying a house is one of the most important legal agreements an transactions that you will enter into during your lifetime.You want someone to protect your interests and make sure that they are present in the agreement;
2. There are a lot of legal documents that you will be asked to sign and they can be confusing. You want someone who will take the time to explain to you what you are signing, to discuss the implication thereof, and answer your questions;
3. Errors happen even with the best attorney. You want someone to confirm that the terms of the loan are what you expected, because an error could cost you a lot of money during the life of the loan or cause an issue with your Title; and
4. Last minute disagreements between Buyer and Seller are not uncommon. You want someone to advocate for your position and make sure that any resolution is in your best interest.
Mortgagees will often allow your attorney to also appear as their Closing attorney; this is an exception, where the conflict of interest can be waived, assuming that all parties agree. By doing so, you can be assured that the Closing attorney is protecting you. If you want your private attorney to serve as a Closing attorney, be sure that they are qualified to do so and that they have access to Title Insurance, with a reputable company, such as Old Republic Title Insurance Company, for which I am an Agent.