What is A Closing – A Lot Happens Before the Day of Closing
Closing involves a series of complex phases: examination of the title, completion and explanation of legal documents, and resolution of any possible title difficulties.
In South Carolina, a licensed attorney conducts each of these steps. First, the attorney will examine the title records for prior conveyances, unpaid mortgages, liens, judgments, easements, and other encumbrances and clouds on title. Next, the attorney verifies that the seller has the authority to convey a good title to the property and that no errors exist in the deeds in the chain of title. The attorney likewise negotiates with the title insurance company for insurance coverage to insure titles against any adverse claims of ownership, liens, and easements.
The attorney next combines all relevant information into one set of closing documents. At the closing, the attorney provides detailed explanations of the documents to insure that the parties understand all issues involved in the transaction. Such matters include: the relevant contracts of sale, obligations of contracts, ordering of the title searches, their analysis of title searches, significance of the title search, quality of title, extent of risks, probability of damage, obligation to close or not to close, process of closing itself, and documents there exchanged. The attorney then disburses funds, records relevant documents as public records, and prepares title insurance policies for the purchaser and lender.
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Our Thoughts and Observations About the Closing Process if You will Be Using Another Attorney for the Closing
If you are selling or buying a house, we suggest you:
- Not use the same attorney as the other party for the closing.
- If you and the other party will be using the same attorney, contact his or her office immediately and ask to see the attorney’s dual representation disclosure and consent form before you go to closing. Read it and then make sure you want to have the same attorney representing you and the other party for the closing.
- Buy a separate policy for owner title insurance coverage always.
- Ask if you are entitled to a discount for the premium for title insurance.
- Ask your attorney if a new survey is needed or recommended, and if you will not be getting a new survey, make sure you will get title insurance coverage for adverse claims due to survey matters.
- You calculate or have someone else calculate and verify the accuracy of all prorations – especially the proration for real estate taxes.
- Make sure you understand your rights if the tax proration will be based on last year’s tax amount and what happens if the tax bill is greater or less than last year’s.
- Make sure you give the attorney’s office your email address early in the process.
- Learn how to apply for the residency tax rate and make sure you do what is necessary to get that rate for the year of closing as well as future years.