As a practicing Florida Real Estate Attorney, I often receive calls, or inquiries through my website from potential clients inquiring as to whether they are legally required to hire an attorney for their real estate purchase or sale in Florida. While many states require the use of an attorney for a real estate purchase or sale, Florida is not one of those states. So, if it is legally not required, why should you consider adding an attorney to your “Team” for your upcoming closing, as either a purchaser or seller? An attorney can bring valuable knowledge, insight, and perspective to the closing table and help get a transaction to closing day that otherwise may not have happened.
The involvement of a real estate attorney in a closing usually begins with contract review and negotiation. Once the parties are under contract, an attorney will monitor all contractual deadlines and ensure that the parties are complying with all of their obligations, including payment and escrow of the required deposits. An attorney review all closing documents for a buyer client including the title commitment to confirm the buyer is taking clear title, and the attorney will assist with any last minute matters that may require negotiation, or extensions to the time period outlined within the contract towards closing. The attorney can also assist a buyer with survey or inspection report questions. An attorney representing a seller conversely will review often act as the closing agent and write and issue the title insurance for the seller, ensuring the seller is in a position to convey clear and marketable title to the buyer. An attorney for the seller will also assist with negotiation of any issues of disputes that arise during the course of the transaction, and will prepare all of the documents for the closing. The attorney for the seller acting as closing agent will be responsible to obtain all closing funds prior to closing and disburse all closing funds at the time the closing is completed.
A real estate attorney can be a valuable member of the closing team along with a realtor for either a buyer or a seller, and can explain any legal or contractual terms along the way, as well as interpret documents, prepare and review documents, and resolve disputes that may occur to get you to the closing table. An attorney can act as your “boots on the ground” if you are closing as a mail away transaction out of state and will not be physically present for the closing, saving you costly time and dollars to travel to Florida for your closing. While not legally required in the state of Florida, the additional dollars you spend to add a Florida real estate attorney to your closing team will be dollars well spent to ensure you have a smooth closing on what is often the largest asset most people purchase or sell in their lifetime. Don’t leave it to chance!
Jennifer D. Peshke
ATTORNEY AT LAW