South Carolina is one of 22 states in the US that legally require an attorney to supervise real estate closings. Furthermore, South Carolina is one of only a select few states where the attorney must be physically present at the closing. When you're purchasing a home, you want to be aware of each cost, so it may be tempting to choose the least expensive legal representation possible, but there are a few reasons to shop the market for the an experienced real estate lawyer in South Carolina.
This law is for your own protection. Residential real estate transactions are inherently complicated — which means that the average person will not be aware of and/or understand all the details without professional assistance.
That being said, the role of a real estate lawyer goes beyond simply explaining the nuances of the contract before you close the deal. Rather, a good South Carolina real estate attorney will meticulously search for any potential problems and make sure you secure the best terms for your home purchase.
South Carolina's Real Estate Closing Process
The Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Pawleys Island market is appealing to full-time and part-time residents, as well as commercial ventures. If you have purchased property in other states, do not assume that your experience in South Carolina will be identical. (Real estate law varies from state to state.) For example, South Carolina does not require a full home inspection but does insist on a termite inspection.
And, unlike most states, a lawyer must oversee all real estate closings in South Carolina. According to South Carolina law, a lawyer must help the buyer and seller:
- Resolve any title issues (such as liens, judgments, unpaid taxes, or mortgage debts),
- Detail any easements and right-of-ways that allow others access to the property,
- Sign a series of documents (required by state law),
- File these documents with the appropriate governmental entity, and
- Make payments in compliance with the purchase agreement.
This is not a simple process. Thankfully, an experienced real estate lawyer will ensure that all steps are properly completed – protecting your financial and legal interests.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Refinance My Home in South Carolina?
Yes, a South Carolina lawyer will need to supervise the closing on the mortgage. For the same reasons stated above, a refinance of a home requires an lawyer to oversee the closing. The mortgage will attach to the property and affect the title.
South Carolina Residential Real Estate Closings: Who Chooses the Lawyer?
Typically, the buyer chooses the closing lawyer according to the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code. This is to ensure the lawyer is providing the buyer a clean title to the property as intended. The realtors and lenders must heed the buyer's choice in closing lawyer. Our office treats buyer and seller the same throughout the entire transaction, and we are here to assist each party. Additionally, the lawyer is impartial and will not represent the buyer or seller if there were a dispute over the closing process of the home.
Who Attends South Carolina Residential Real Estate Closings?
Of course, the Buyer and Seller are present at closing unless documents have been signed remotely or in advance. The Buyer and Seller will review and sign documents separately. Note, if husband and wife own property jointly titled in both their names, then they will both need to be present at closing. The realtors often choose to be present at closing, and occasionally loan officers will also attend.
What do I Need to Bring to Closing?
You will need two forms of current identification — typically this is a driver's license and a social security card. You may also bring other forms of government issued ID like a passport, military ID, voter's registration, etc. The buyer will bring any necessary money to close in the form of certified funds. The seller will also need to bring the keys to the property!
Real Estate Closing Attorney's Fees
A South Carolina real estate closing attorney typically charges a flat fee for conducting the closing. In most cases, the fee is several hundred dollars, and in some situations, it may be over $1,000. Many real estate clients only see the real estate closing attorney at the closing itself and may wonder why these fees are in place. However, there is quite a bit of work that closing attorneys must do to prepare for the closing and ensure that the property is being properly transferred from the sellers to the buyers.
First, the closing attorney will conduct a title search to check the status of the property. The title search will confirm that the seller has full ownership of the property and is in a position to transfer it to the buyer. The title search will also show if there are any easements, encroachments, or other restrictions on the property. The attorney will also prepare an opinion on the title that is presented to a title company. This document will be used in the event that the buyer wants to purchase title insurance.
After The Closing
A closing attorney's work does not end when the parties leave the office. After the closing has been completed, the closing attorney will update the title to the property on local registry of deed websites and will record the deed and mortgage (if there is one). In addition, the closing attorney is responsible for disbursing fees, including brokerage fees, taxes, loan payoff amounts, seller proceeds, insurance premiums, and inspection fees.
After the transaction has been completed, if any issues arise with the transfer of the property, the closing attorney may be consulted if necessary to help resolve the issue.
The closing attorney does not simply sit with the parties at the closing and have them sign documents. The closing attorney's guidance is a necessity to ensure the transition of ownership goes smoothly and that the parties understand the legal requirements of the deal.
Contact a South Carolina Real Estate Lawyer
The South Carolina real estate lawyers at the Hopkins Law Firm are experienced in a variety of real estate transactions, including residential, commercial, refinancing, and equity loan matters. If you're considering buying or selling real estate in South Carolina or are already negotiating a contract we'd love to help you close on your transactions. To schedule a closing with our real estate lawyers, call (843) 314-4202 or contact us online today.