Last Updated on June 1, 2016
Real estate laws vary from state to state. For home buyers and sellers who have moved here from elsewhere, that sometimes creates confusion and surprises.
For example, in some states, real estate closings are not conducted by real estate attorneys. Rather, they may be done by a title insurance company or escrow agent.
In North Carolina, closings are required to be conducted by attorneys who focus their practice on real estate law, and who are approved to do business with various independent title insurance companies.
North Carolina has a somewhat unique system. Prior to closing, a real estate attorney conducts a title search on the property. This is to ensure the property title is “clean” – which means there are no liens or claims against the property. The attorney then sends an opinion on the title to the property to an independent title insurance company or agency.
The title insurance company then issues the title insurance commitment or policy, while the real estate attorney conducts the closing. This involves handling of funds and recording of the documents – and of course, guiding the buyer or seller through many pages that require a signature.
Buyers and sellers in North Carolina actually have some advantages with this process. Involving a real estate attorney in the process actually keeps the overall cost of the transaction down. Attorneys may also provide legal advice, if needed, to clients during the closing process.
And you’re in good hands when an attorney is involved in your closing, because North Carolina attorneys are closely regulated by the State Bar Association and General Statutes, and most carry malpractice insurance. Additionally, any funds that must be paid are also secure, as attorneys’ trust accounts are regulated by both the State Bar and the North Carolina Good Funds Settlement Act.
If you’ve never bought or sold a home in another state, you likely won’t question why the process is different in North Carolina. But you can rest assured that your real estate closing will be conducted professionally and safely, in the capable hands of a real estate attorney.