Residential real estate buyers and sellers often wonder what a real estate closing attorney does other than conduct the actual closing. There is much more than you may think. There may be as many as three or four attorneys at the closing representing the buyer, the seller, the lender and the title company.
Usually, the attorney’s office receives a copy of the contact of sale and a “title order” from the lender which provides additional information concerning the loan including the lender contact and the proposed closing date. The attorney then opens a file, enters into an engagement agreement with the client and conducts a title examination on the subject property.
A title examination involves examining the records at the Recorder of Deeds for forty to sixty years or more and is performed to determine the status of title and any encumbrances and liens on the property so that the attorney can arrive at a “title opinion.” The title opinion is used as the bases for the issuance of a title insurance commitment to the lender. Receipt of the title insurance commitment allows the lender to move forward with processing its closing documents. If there are title issues that result in an exception to title insurance in the commitment, those must be resolved before closing and the closing attorney will take appropriate steps.