When to Hire a Real Estate Attorney and Title Company

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Every seller pays for a real estate attorney or title company whether they sell a house with an agent or FSBO. Hire a lawyer to protect your home sale and a title company to coordinate the paperwork.

What a Good Lawyer Does for FSBO Sellers
There are many, many variables in the real estate sale and purchase process that require you to make decisions: How much should I list my home for? Should I sell my home now, or wait another month? Should I paint my walls white, or buff? You get a break with this one: Don’t just think about hiring a real estate attorney, hire one as soon as you move into the closing phase. There is just too much at stake to risk letting some sort of legal snafu torpedo your sale. Your state might require you to hire an attorney, but even if that’s not the case, don’t skimp on this worthwhile expenditure (likely less than $500).

An attorney will guide you through the paperwork, ensuring that you are complying with state law every step of the way. Your real estate attorney will also work closely with the title or settlement company and the buyer’s attorney to make sure that the transaction proceeds smoothly. A local real estate attorney is likely to have worked with the title company and opposing attorney on past transactions, making it even more likely that your deal will move forward without complications.

The last place you want to be is at the closing table with a professional closer and your buyer’s attorney staring at you and expecting you to respond to a legal question that you are not prepared to answer. You need an experienced advocate on your side to be certain that your interests are always represented.

How to Choose a Title Insurance Company
Once you’ve hired an attorney, ask her for a recommendation of a title company or settlement agent to hire for your closing. Don’t hire that company before doing research about its costs vs. competitors and reputation in the marketplace. With a real estate attorney recommendation you’ll have a good starting point.

Also, title insurance industry practices vary due to differences in state law and local real estate custom. Find out from your attorney what the local practices and customs are in the title business in your local market.

In most states, home sellers pay for the owner’s title insurance policy, in effect paying to assure the buyer that the home is really theirs to sell. The fee that the seller pays includes the property search done by the title company and the policy for the new owner. (The buyer typically pays for the policy that protects their mortgage lender). Because the seller is bearing the upfront title search cost, the seller has the right to choose the title insurer.

If you are having trouble finding a title company, use Find A Pro on ForSaleByOwner.com, or visit the America Land Title Association website and use their pro finder tool.