A real estate contract or purchase and sale agreement is a legally binding, written document to buy and sell property.
This document controls the transaction and the Buyer and Seller should be familiar with certain terms. These terms should be agreed upon before signing any written document. Below are some terms that a closing lawyer will review before closing:
- Parties Names and Contact Information. Parties are important because recourse is against those named in the contract. The Seller must be the current owner of record. The Buyer must be ready, able and willing to buy.
- Subject Property Location or Legal Description. Defining the subject property is important because it binds the Buyer and Seller to the specific property described. This can be changed by an amendment executed by both parties.
- Purchase and Sale Price. The price is important because it binds the Buyer and Seller to the specific price referenced. This can be changed by an amendment executed by both parties.
- Earnest Money. This is the Buyer’s good faith deposit to purchase the property and provide additional time for financing, due diligence and inspections.
- Closing Costs and/or Seller Credit. Standard closing costs are settlement fees, title fees, transfer taxes and recording fees. The contract deals with which party is responsible for each fee. Sometimes the Seller will contribute a specific amount as a credit or concession to the Buyer.
- Due Diligence Period or Inspection Period. This is the time allowed for the Buyer to complete research on the property. Traditionally, if the Buyer cancels during the due diligence period the earnest money is refunded.
- Settlement Agent or Closing Attorney. This is usually the choice of the party responsible for paying the closing costs. This can be changed by an amendment executed by both parties.
- Closing Date. This is the day the Buyer is to complete the purchase and the Seller is to transfer title. This can be changed by an amendment executed by both parties.
- Special Stipulations. This include extras such as a home warranty, termite letter, refrigerator, washer or dryer. Any special item to be included as part of the purchase and sale.
Typically, a real estate agent or broker will help prepare the written contract or agreement. If no agent or broker is involved, an attorney can help prepare the contract. The parties will have to agree on the terms. Then an attorney can draft a written contract for the parties to execute.
Are you looking to add or remove a name from title?
Need a gift transfer, where no money changes hands.
The document (also called legal instrument) used to transfer ownership is a deed. There are two types of deeds used in Georgia, a Warranty Deed and a Quit Claim Deed.
Here are the steps to completing a deed transfer in Georgia:
- Names the Current Owner and New Owner
- Contains a Description of the Property
- Signed by Current Owner
- Two Witnesses: Unofficial Witness & Notary Public
- Complete a PT-61, Transfer Tax Form
- Record Deed in County Real Estate Records
What are the different deed types?
Quit Claim Deed
A Quit Claim Deed is used to transfer property without a warranty. It releases any interest the party may have with no guaranty to title. This is more commonly used between family members or parties familiar with the property. A quit claim deed can also be an acceptable transfer with a title examination and due diligence of the real estate.
Title insurance can be purchased to protect the ownership rights of a quit claim deed.
A General Warranty Deed is used to transfer property with a warranty. This general warranty guarantees title and the full history of title. This is not commonly used as most sellers will not guaranty title of previous owners.
A Limited Warranty Deed is used to transfer property with a limited warranty. This limited warranty guarantees title only during the period of ownership. No guarantees as to the previous owners. This is the most common form of title transfer in a traditional purchase and sale closing.
Deed transfers can be complex. It is best to consult an attorney that practices in real estate law.
A For Sale By Owner (FSBO) transaction skips the tradition real estate agent or broker. It is not required in Georgia to use an agent to sell a home.
If a Buyer and Seller have negotiated a purchase price for the home — it’s time to put it in writing. A Real Estate Contract, also called a Purchase and Sale Agreement, is a written agreement, legally binding and enforceable by law.
When to hire a lawyer or title company for Closing?
An attorney is required in the home (for sale by owner) closing process in Georgia. Attorneys handle title, money and deed transfer. If the parties have signed a Real Estate Contract or Purchase and Sale Agreement, then the next step is to open a title order with a real estate attorney. The attorney will then review the title, conduct the closing and disburse funds.
Need help with a Real Estate Contract or Purchase and Sale Agreement.
If the parties are negotiating or agreed on a purchase price, then a real estate attorney can prepare a Purchase Agreement. An attorney will help with the terms and special stipulations in a Contract. Be prepared to discuss the purchase price, earnest money deposit, seller contribution to closing costs, financing, inspection period (due diligence) and any special stipulations.
It depends on the state. Some states allow title companies to conduct home closings, while other states require an attorney to oversee home closings.
Georgia is an attorney-closing state; meaning that an attorney is required in the closing process.
Attorneys are involved in the following closing process:
- draft or review the Purchase and Sale Agreement or Contract
- title search and examination
- oversee execution of deeds, mortgages and other loan closing documents
- disburse funds
- file and record documents in county records
- issue title insurance policy
There are fees charged by lawyers performing real estate closings. These are sometimes called settlement fees, closing costs or title fees. The good news is as a buyer or seller, you can shop around and compare closing costs. The easiest way is to search google for closing attorney near me, then call or email for a quote. You can also ask your real estate agent, broker or loan officer for an attorney referral.
Some questions to ask when shopping for a closing attorneys are:
- what is the average turnaround time for a title search?
- do you offer simultaneous issue rates for owner’s and lender’s title insurance policies?
- is there a special offer available for first time homebuyers or new customers?
Closing Pro is staffed by real estate attorneys and title professionals, working together. This allows for prompt title turnaround and rush closings.
Closing costs are necessary fees to buy and sell a home or refinance a mortgage. Lenders provide a Loan Estimate showing services you can shop for. Title is a service you can shop for.
Common closing costs and title fees for a Georgia residential real estate closing
1. Settlement or Closing Fee is to handle and conduct the closing. Georgia is an attorney-closing state, which means that a real estate attorney is engaged to oversee the closing. This fee is for an attorney to go through the closing documents and answer any questions. Also, an attorney must handle the funds (money) and disburse in accordance with the approved settlement statement.
2. Title Search and Examination Fee shows the legal rights to the property. A title search uncovers the legal owner, mortgages, liens, judgments, covenant, restrictions, easements, survey and taxes. A title examination is an attorney’s review of the title documents.
3. Document Preparation or Doc Prep Fee is for an attorney to prepare the deed to legally transfer title from the Seller to the Buyer. Also, the preparation of the Settlement Statement or Closing Disclosure – the document that discloses how money is being handled.
4. Post Closing Fee is to process the documents after closing. Original deeds and mortgages are submitted to the county for recording, then returned to the buyer, borrower and/or lender for safe keeping. Also, digital copies of closing documents are securely stored on servers, which can be accessed anytime.
5. Title Insurance Policy protects ownership rights. Lenders require title insurance to protect mortgage lien rights. Homeowners have the option to purchase title insurance to protect property ownership rights.
6. Transfer Taxes and Recording Fees are government fees. There is a deed tax called a transfer tax and a mortgage tax called the intangible tax. There is also recording fees – the cost to have the deed and mortgage filed in the county records.
Have questions about the closing costs for your transaction? Fees vary based on the Purchase Price and Loan Amount. Contact our Georgia-based real estate closing firm for a quote.