St. Petersburg Real Estate Closing Attorney
Serving You and The State of Florida
Closing is the final step in the purchase of a home. It can be an exciting day, but it is also stressful for both buyers and sellers alike. After all, you might not know exactly what is going to happen – and you might be worried about something going wrong.
Working with an experienced residential real estate attorney can alleviate much of your anxiety about the closing and the process as a whole. From making the initial offer until the closing, your lawyer will advocate for you and help to ensure that the transaction is as smooth as possible. They will also explain your legal rights and obligations, including the terms of the contract, the importance of a properly drafted deed, and the necessity of a title examination and title insurance.
At the Lopez Law Group, we specialize in protecting our Florida consumers during real estate closings. We offer comprehensive and customized services that can address common issues that often arise during the sale and purchase of real estate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Reach out to our law office today to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.
What Is a Real Estate Closing?
A real estate closing is the final step in buying or selling a piece of property. During this meeting, the ownership of the property is formally transferred from the seller to the buyer. There are a lot of things that lead up to a closing, however. Typically steps include:
- Make an Offer and Deposit Earnest Money: When a person decides that they want to purchase a piece of real estate, they typically have to deposit “earnest money” when making their offer. Earnest money is a way to secure your offer and may be as low as $1,000. This money is held by the escrow agent in an account, and will ultimately go toward the purchase price of the home.
- Apply for a Mortgage: Although some buyers are able to make a straight cash offer, most need to secure a loan in order to buy a house. The transaction is contingent on the buyers’ ability to secure a residential mortgage. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for a conventional mortgage, a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, or another type of loan.
- Appraise the Property: Before approving a mortgage, the lender will need to perform an appraisal to ensure that the property is valued appropriately. The appraiser will typically be chosen by the lender and will write a report on the value of the home. If the property is appraised at or above the loan amount, then your mortgage will likely be approved. Otherwise, your bank may decline to issue a loan unless you can renegotiate the purchase price.
- Perform Title Search and Obtain Title Insurance: A title represents ownership of the property. Before you can buy a home, a title search must be performed to ensure that the title is clear (i.e., no one else claims to own it and there are no encumbrances on the property). If the title is found to be free and clear, then the sale can move forward. Title insurance is then purchased for both the buyer and the lender.
- Perform Property Inspection: Before any real estate deal is finalized, the property should be inspected by a professional inspector. This is particularly important in Florida due to the humidity and weather conditions. An inspector will closely examine the property and write a report that notes any defects or damage.
- Perform Survey: Any real estate transaction requires a legal description of the property boundaries. This will make sure that the property description is up to date and will examine to see if there are any ingresses or egresses from the property that you should be aware of moving forward.
- Obtain Necessary Insurance: Before closing, you will want to talk to your insurance agent about homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, and other policies.
- Do a Final Walk-Through: A final inspection typically occurs on closing day. The buyers will have a chance to walk through the house to make sure that any agreed-upon repairs were made and that the house is in good condition.
This process can take weeks or months, depending on factors such as whether the title needs to be cleared and the seller’s preferred closing date. There may also be contingencies in the contract, such as the buyers selling their current house, that must be met before closing can occur. As a result, the closing may be pushed back or delayed.
The final step in the process is the closing itself. All of the parties – the buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and attorneys – will review all of the documentation. All documents will be signed, the final payment will be made, and ownership will be transferred.
Having a real estate closing lawyer to represent you during this meeting is incredibly important. Despite careful preparation, issues can arise during the closing that must be addressed. Your attorney will examine all documents, make any necessary changes, and advocate for your interests. A real estate closing attorney will also perform the final legal steps to transfer ownership, including recording the deed at the courthouse and disbursing fees.
What Does a Real Estate Closing Lawyer Do?
When you are buying or selling a house, you might think that all you really need is a real estate agent. And while it is true that a good real estate agent is worth their weight in gold, there are certain things that they simply cannot do. A real estate closing attorney will perform a number of tasks to ensure that the process complies with Florida law and that your interests are protected.
Your lawyer will typically perform five tasks as part of the closing process. First, they will perform a title examination. The title represents ownership of the property. Before you purchase a piece of property, it is crucial to ensure that there are no “clouds” on the title.
A seasoned real estate closing attorney will carefully evaluate both the public records and the transaction documents for things such as:
- Existing mortgages
If there are any issues – such as an old mortgage that is still on the property – then our residential real estate lawyers will work to clear the title. Unlike a title search company – which can often identify issues but cannot fix them – the Lopez Law Group can locate and correct any title defects we discover in our title examination.
Second, we will prepare an opinion on the title that can be used for the issuance of a title binder. This allows you to obtain title insurance to protect your interest in your property. Title insurance is required for lenders if a mortgage is involved, but it is optional for buyers. Nevertheless, it is a smart idea to purchase title insurance to ensure that you are covered if someone makes a claim against the title of your property.
Third, we will coordinate the closing itself. During this meeting, every party involved in the transaction (or their representative) must be present. We will coordinate with all involved parties, including buyers, sellers, lenders, brokers, inspectors, real estate agents, and other real estate attorneys. This is necessary to ensure that the closing happens on time and with as few issues as possible.
Fourth, we will review all documents associated with the transaction. Real estate closing involves an extraordinary amount of paperwork, including the contract, title, and insurance coverage. Having a knowledgeable real estate closing lawyer on hand to guide you through the process can help you to avoid any potential issues and increases the odds of a smooth closing where all parties walk away satisfied.
Fifth, we will handle the legal steps necessary to transfer ownership: recording the deed and distributing funds. After all of the documents are reviewed and executed (signed), the real estate closing attorney will go to the courthouse to record the deed and associated documents. They will then issue a final opinion to the title company, disburse any fees and taxes, and handle the final payment to the seller.
How a St. Petersburg Real Estate Closing Attorney Can Help
Whether you are buying or selling property, it is important to understand your legal rights and obligations under Florida law. Having a knowledgeable real estate closing lawyer can make a huge difference in the success of your transaction. The Lopez Law Group will make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible for you on closing day.
Based in St. Petersburg, we represent buyers and sellers of commercial and residential real estate throughout the region. We have significant experience in all aspects of real estate transactions, including the final steps necessary to close the deal. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team, give us a call at727-370-9157 or fill out our online contact form.
Where Does the Real Estate Closing Happen?
The closing should happen in the county where the property is located. Typically, it occurs at the office of the real estate closing attorney or another closing agent. Otherwise, it might happen at a location designated by the seller (such as their real estate agent’s office). The closing agent will ensure that a notary and two witnesses are available for the paperwork.
Your lawyer will help you understand exactly what will happen on closing day. In Pinellas County, contact the Lopez Law Group to talk to an experienced residential real estate lawyer.
Can I Back Out of a Real Estate Contract Before Closing?
Either the buyer or seller can step away from a real estate transaction in certain circumstances. For example, if the inspection shows major defects, the buyer may be able to walk away. Alternatively, if the contingencies in the contract are not met, the title to the property is not clear, or the buyer cannot get financing, then either party may be able to get out of the contract.
A real estate contract is a legally binding agreement, which is why it is important to know what you are agreeing to before signing it. The Lopez Law Group can help you draft a real estate contract, review a contract for you, and explain the contract terms for you. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.
How Long Does a Closing Take?
While each closing is unique, on average, if there are no issues, a closing will take one to two hours. If it is a cash transaction, then the closing may be shorter because there is no lender involved.
The closing itself can be boring – but it should not be rushed. The documents that you sign are incredibly important, and you should understand what you are signing. A St. Petersburg real estate closing attorney can help you through the process and make sure that it goes as smoothly as possible.
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!
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