- Real Estate Closings
- Deed Preparation
- Bonds for Title
- Attorney Title Opinions
- Title Searches/Abstracts
- Tax Sale Litigation
- Partition and Quiet Title Actions
- Adverse Possession
- Mechanics Liens
REAL ESTATE CLOSINGS
We handle residential and commercial real estate closings. Attorney David Sullivan is an experienced real estate closing attorney and a licensed title insurance agent with Investors Title Insurance Company. If you would like our firm to handle your real estate closing, please email the signed contract of sale to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please list our firm as the closing attorney on the contract of sale. Note that the buyer in South Carolina chooses the closing attorney. If you are obtaining a mortgage to purchase real estate, you will need to provide our contact information to your lender. If you would like our firm to handle a refinance, equity line of credit, or some other type of loan closing, please advise your lender that you have chosen our firm as your settlement agent/closing attorney. If you are considering allowing us to handle your closing, we are glad to provide a free quote for our services.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF HOW THE CLOSING PROCESS WORKS
Financed Purchase Closings. A financed closing is simply a closing where the buyer is obtaining a mortgage to purchase the real estate. After the buyer has advised their lender that we will be the closing attorney, the lender will request various documentation from us. Most lenders will ask that we provide them with a closing protection letter, title commitment, preliminary Closing Disclosure (CD) showing title related charges and other closing costs, a tax certification, and various other documentation. We will need to obtain certain information from both buyer and seller, such as invoices for all items to be paid at closing, in order to prepare a closing package. It is not uncommon for the title search to reveal title defects. Usually, we are able to resolve these defects prior to closing, often by insuring over them in the title insurance policy. Although every closing is different, we are normally able to send a proposed CD to the buyer and seller (or their agents) several days prior to closing. In residential, principal residence transactions, the buyer will receive a proposed CD from their lender at least three days prior to closing. Because our office usually doesn't receive the lender's fees until a few days prior to the closing, we generally cannot provide an exact cash to close amount until that time. (The buyer should, however, receive a truth-in-lending statement from their lender early on in the process and have a very good idea of the approximate amount they will be expected to bring to closing). The lender will advise us when they are ready to close. Once the lender is ready to close and there are no issues holding up the closing, our office will schedule a date for the buyer and seller to sign the closing documents. Often, real estate agents will assist in getting everyone on the same page with a closing date. Financed, purchase real estate closings, on average, take about an hour. After the buyer and seller have signed all of the documents contained in the closing package, our office will disburse funds from the closing exactly as they are shown on the CD and record the closing documents (normally the deed and mortgage).
Cash closings. Many real estate transactions are not financed. In a "cash closing" the buyer is not relying on financing from a lending institution to purchase real estate. Title related closing costs are generally lower for cash closings. After we receive the signed contract of sale and payment for the title search fee, we will perform a title search and begin preparing for your closing. Though every closing is different and issues sometimes arise which are out of our control, we are normally able to complete the title search, prepare a Settlement Statement (sometimes called a "HUD") and the closing package, and schedule a cash closing within about one week from the date we receive the closing request. As with a financed purchase closing, we will usually send the buyer and seller the Settlement Statement several days prior to closing.
EXPLANATION OF TITLE RELATED FEES
Title Search. Performing a title search involves much more than simply locating the deed to a piece of real estate. A chain of title is established for normally at least 40 years, listing all of the owners of the property being examined. Every owner in the chain of title is searched to determine any out conveyances, easements/rights-of-way, restrictive covenants, mortgages, and other various documents which may effect the title. Also, surveys referenced in property descriptions in deeds in the chain of title are studied to determine if there are building setback lines, encroachments, easements, and other matters of survey effecting title to the property. Various types of liens are checked for the applicable statutory periods on owners in the chain of title. These are just some of the items checked in a title search. Most lenders will require a title search for purchases, refinances, and equity line loans (though a title search from the current owner to present is normally all that is required for an equity line loan). If you are purchasing real estate without a mortgage, we do not require, but we highly recommend, that you allow our firm to perform a 40 year title search).
Title Commitment. Most lenders will require that we provide them with a title commitment for your loan. It includes the terms, exclusions, and conditions of the lender's title insurance policy. Some lenders require additional title insurance coverage through endorsements. Title commitments are detailed and tailored to each transaction.
Title Insurance. There are two different types of title insurance polices: an owner's policy and a lender's policy. A lender's title insurance protects the lender's loan exposure and its lien interest in the secured real estate. Most lenders require the borrower to purchase a lender's policy. However, lenders and property owners have distinct interests in real estate. Whereas a lender's policy protects the lender's interest, an owner's title insurance policy protects the interest of the owner. An owner's policy typically covers things such as forgery, fraud in connection with the execution of documents, undue influence on a grantor or executor, undisclosed or missing heirs, wills not properly probated, mental incompetence of grantors, indexing and recording errors, and incorrect legal descriptions. Many of these issues would not be revealed in a title search. Title insurance companies often provide attorneys to resolve certain types of title defects, so long as the defect is one that is covered under the policy. Without a title insurance policy, individuals would often have to hire an attorney at their own expense. People are often confused about why they should purchase title insurance. Title insurance is a type of insurance unfamiliar to most people However, there are plenty of real estate litigation lawyers who can share horror stories about people who have lost some or all of the value in their homes because of some title defect and neglected to purchase title insurance. Loss from title deficiencies can be as great as, or greater than, fire or other damage. Title insurance policies are very inexpensive, only require a one time premium payment, and the premiums are set by state law. They are well worth the money. Though an owner's policy is not normally required at closing, I always recommend them. Normally, title insurance companies provide a discount for purchasing both a lender's and owner's policy simultaneously.
Overnight Fee. This fee is simply to cover our fee for returning the a signed closing package to a lender usually by overnight delivery.
Closing Protection Letter. This is a contract between the lender and the title insurance company wherein the title insurance company agrees to pay actual losses to the lender that may result from the closing attorney's misconduct, mistakes, etc. Most lenders will require a closing protection letter for a refinance or purchase closing.
Seller Fees. Though buyers and sellers are free to negotiate how closing costs are split between them, customarily in South Carolina sellers pay transfer taxes (also referred to as deed stamps), the deed preparation fee, and any fees associated with paying off exiting mortgages or other liens.