In Florida, unlike many states, both attorneys and title companies may close real estate transactions and issue title insurance. However, closing with an attorney may offer notable benefits that a title company cannot provide, some of which I will discuss.
First, a real estate attorney has the unique ability and training to address a host of issues that may arise at any time throughout the closing process. An attorney can prepare corrective documents or take legal action necessary to cure title defects that may otherwise prevent closing. For example, an attorney may prepare non-standard addenda, deeds, and/or affidavits, or initiate a lawsuit to cure material defects.
Second, an attorney can provide legal representation, advice and guidance throughout the transaction, from contract negotiation through closing and post-closing. In short, when an issue threatens to thwart a closing, a real estate attorney is best equipped to address it, increasing the likelihood for a successful closing.
Conversely, a title company’s role is typically limited (or legally restricted) to preparing generic documents necessary to transfer ownership and issue a title insurance policy and, thus, may not address specific issues that may arise in a particular transaction.
Typically, the closing costs charged by an attorney and a title company are comparable, as the title insurance premiums are set by the Florida Department of Insurance and are the same for attorneys and title companies. Thus, for generally the same cost, a real estate attorney may prove invaluable since that attorney is well positioned to address unexpected issues that may arise throughout the closing process. With closings, the adage rings true – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Scot B. Copeland is a board-certified Real Estate Attorney and practices out of our South Walton office. Scot can help give you peace of mind during the purchase or sale of your real property.