Who is expected to attend a closing for real estate in Pennsylvania? What is the role of each?
Closing real estate is the final procedure or step of executing a real estate transaction between two or more parties in a binding legal contract. This step is also referred to as the completion or settlement of the real estate transaction. It occurs after an offer is made, negotiations conducted, accepted, an agreement signed on agreed upon terms and conditions and ultimately the property becomes transferred to the purchaser by the owner. Generally, different parties play different roles, and similarly, these steps vary from one jurisdiction to another due to varying policies and laws. For instance in Pennsylvania, several people may attend, this includes the buyer, the owner of the property, an attorney or paralegals and the real estate agent who facilitated the transaction among others such as the lender or financier in case the property is being bought on loan or mortgage.
Generally, during the closing or settlement of the real estate transaction in this particular state, it is a legal requirement that an attorney has to attend from preparation to when the transaction is finally completed. Their role is to ensure there is compliance with the legal rules and that due diligence is exercised throughout the process. In the same breath, the attorney conducts a title search to identify any barriers, liens or limitations while assessing the title. On the other hand, real estate agents have fiduciary duties in ensuring that their client’s rights and interests are upheld. The agents meet up with the escrow officer and usually conduct the execution at closing on behalf of their clients while correcting errors and confirming that everything else is in the correct order.
Important to note, the buyer and seller himself have to attend the closing according to Pennsylvania state laws, and where they are unable to attend in person, they should instruct their attorneys or agents to act on their behalf. The buyer’s role is to check and confirm the property conditions, discuss the final terms and conditions and make up the payment and execute his part on the agreement. The vendor on his part has a role of handing in the final title, ownership documents and the keys to the house before signing and receiving the purchase price as agreed.
What is the role of the paralegal at a real estate closing?
Almost every law office has paralegals; their role ranges from working as administrative assistants, attending to clients, draft and file documents among others. In relation to estate transactions, paralegals usually facilitate the buying and selling, and leasing of real estate. Their duties include general preparation and reviewing of correspondences and conducting and reviewing sale agreements between the parties. Paralegals equally have a role in recording essential dates, managing files, organizing closing funds and general preparation of closing checklists. On the other hand, paralegals also conduct coordination of all parties towards the closing of the real estate by communicating to all parties involved in the transaction. They are also tasked to with the responsibilities to prepare required documents including sale agreement, closing documents, affidavits, transfer forms, give accounts and prepare the final closing report.
The concept is real estate calls for due diligence; thus the most crucial duty by paralegals involves the duty to ensure diligence is conducted by performing a title search, ensuring that survey was conducted, physical inspection of the property was conducted. Other important duties include drafting objection or complaints letters if the need arises and lastly by conducting formal property appraisal and final report. Ostensibly, these duties are critical because when due diligence is not conducted, the transaction may fail and the buyer may not have a remedy in case a dispute over the same property arises.
On the other hand, despite the significant role played by paralegals, it is worth noting that while in the course of their duties, they may cause the real estate transaction to fail especially when they violate their privileges. For instance, it is notable that real estate transaction and settlement involves several parties and may become more complex, a paralegal tasked to facilitate the transaction may erroneously give the parties an unreasonable/unrealistic contract dates. Similarly, through hefty paperwork and complex roles, paralegals may give erratic real estate appraisal which consequentially causes issues that may result in cancelation or failure to close up the transaction.
Simmons, Kevin M., and Paul Kovacs. “Real estate market response to enhanced building codes in Moore, OK.” International journal of disaster risk reduction 27 (2018): 85-93.