Who will be handling my file — how will I know who to call?
One of our experienced closing coordinators will introduce themselves to you either through email or telephone once your file has been established with our firm. You are welcome to call or email your designated closing coordinator should you have any questions at all or you can call our centralized closing office number at 478-953-4190 or you can email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’d love to speak to you. The first point of contact for all closings is our precloser, Marianne. You can find more information about our closing team on the About Us page.
I have to bring money to the closing. What forms of payment to do accept?
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 44-14-13, all funds exceeding the sum of $5,000.00 brought to a real estate closing must be in the form of wire transfer only. For amounts between $1,000 and $5,000 a certified check will be accepted. For amounts less than $1,000.00, you may write a personal check. Parties bringing funds to closing are encouraged to bring a personal check with them in the event there are small amounts owed due to last minute changes which are not covered by the funds delivered. Please note that if you are wiring funds, you MUST call our office and get verbal wiring instructions, in addition to any written instructions. Our firm takes not responsibility for funds that are wired to the wrong account if you fail to call and verbally verify wiring instructions. If we are wiring any funds to you, we must get a voided check and speak with you personally to verify wiring instructions. You must also sign a wire authorization sheet.
The amount I have to bring to closing is between $1,000.00 and $5,000.00. When I get my certified check, who should I have it payable to?
You can have the certified check made payable to The Cooper Law Firm, LLC or you may have the check made payable to yourself (you can endorse the certified check to us at the closing table).
What are the most common pitfalls that cause closings to fail or to be delayed at the last minute?
1. Buyer does not have funds ready for closing (initiating a wire at the closing table is not the same as the funds being here — wires can sometimes take 24-48 hours to be delivered to escrow).
2. Seller has failed to perform required repairs to the property.
3. Seller did not provide proof of termite bond and transferability, if required in contract.
4. Seller delay in providing payoff information to closing coordinator.
5. Last minute requests for power of attorney or mailing the closing documents to a buyer or seller.
6. Delay in receiving HOA contact information from the parties, if applicable to the property.
7. Home Warranty was not ordered, if doing so is required in the contract.
8. Borrower has failed to provide Lender with requested information in a timely manner.
9. Lender’s funds have been delayed.
10. Parties have wrong time or date for closing.
11. Lender and The Cooper Law Firm, LLC have not received all of Addendums to the Contract or last minute changes to Closing Costs paid by Seller.
If I am not able to be present for closing, may I have get someone sign as my attorney in fact or may I have the documents mailed to me?
It is always our first choice to have all parties to the sale of real estate to be present for the closing. However, in the event that is not possible, you may also consider coming in to do an “early signing.” There is no extra fee for this service. You simply would schedule a time to sign your paperwork in advance of the actual closing, if your paperwork can be made available and your lender allows. The documents are then held in escrow until the actual closing date.
In the event this will not work for your circumstance, you may designate an attorney in fact to sign the documents on your behalf.
As there are tax implications and private information within many of the documents you will be signing, you will want to consider the person you choose to be your attorney in fact carefully. The key is that you let your closing coordinator and lender (if any) know as soon as possible. Power of Attorney documents for the sale of real estate are governed by Georgia law and we will need to provide you with the Power of Attorney. There is a charge for this service. The document must be signed by you, witnessed and notarized. We will also require a copy of your photo identification and we will need an original of the Power of Attorney document prior to closing.
If there is a lender involved and you are a borrower, the lender will need to approve whether a Power of Attorney may be used.
A “mail out” is a circumstance in which we mail all of the Seller or Buyer documents for signature to an Old Republic or Fidelity National office located near you. We can also help you find an office near you. You may also sign documents in front of your personal attorney. There is considerable preparation that goes into sending such packages, so that they will be easy for you to know where to sign and understand what you are signing. There is a fee for this service. We will need to have advance notice in order to accommodate these requests (See Item #5 of causes of delay above).
How long will the closing last?
An average closing takes 30-60 minutes. Keep in mind that unforeseen factors may result in the closing taking longer than average (for example, lenders may require that we send them copies of the signed documents prior to disbursing). We will do our best to expedite the process.
What do I need to bring to a closing?
• A valid driver’s license, passport or state-issued photo ID.
• Good funds.
• Keys to the home, garage door opener and any other items for the buyer.
• All documents requested by The Cooper Law Firm, LLC such as home warranty documents, homeowners’ association information, etc.
• Forwarding address and contact information to give to the buyer.
• A valid driver’s license, passport or state-issued photo ID.
• Good funds for amount of money needed to close.
• All documents requested by The Cooper Law Firm, LLC or your lender.
Any person whose name appears on the loan, needs to be present at closing to sign loan documents. *If someone is unable to attend, please contact our office to see if you qualify for “Power of Attorney.”
What documents will be signed at the closing?
• Closing Disclosure – This document includes the agreed upon purchase price, real estate commission (if applicable), all agreed upon closing costs, pro-ration property taxes, etc.
• Warranty Deed – This document transfers the title of the property to the new owner(s).
• Representation Disclosure
• Promissory Note
• Security Deed
• Waiver of Borrower’s Rights and other Riders
• Survey and/or Termite Waivers
• Escrow Account Statement
• Occupancy/Employment Affidavits
• Flood insurance, if applicable
• Borrower’s Certification and Authorization
• First Payment and/or Coupon Letter
• Seller’s Affidavit of Residence
• Seller’s Certificate of Exemption
• Agreement to Cooperate
• Legal Services Statement
• Power of Attorney for non-material changes
• Closing of prior mortgage letter
• Other documents required by the lender
What is Title Insurance?
Nothing assures a homebuyer peace of mind quite like title insurance.
Would you ever think you could lose your home because another person legally has a
right to it? That thought might never cross your mind, but perhaps it should.
Title insurance is about protection; protecting your home, your family, and yourself. It is about preventing a mishap, or lessening the severity of its impact.
Your home is your most valuable material asset. If the potential loss of your home arises from a covered title problem, an Owner’s Policy will protect you. Please watch this video with more information about the insurance.
Title insurance provides coverage to a buyer or lender against loss if a “covered defect” is found in the title to property. Examples of “covered defects” include any previous errors that might have been made in a prior deed, will, or mortgage, and liens, such as unpaid mortgages, that may give someone else a valid legal claim against your property.
Do I need Title Insurance?
Owner’s Title Insurance is an optional, but highly recommended, coverage. Please ask one of our attorneys for more information. Your lender will require you to provide a Lender’s Title Insurance Policy as part of your closing. It is a one-time fee, unlike hazard insurance which is paid every year. The lender requires the coverage to secure their loan because they know it is important. The coverage only covers the lender’s loan, though, and not your investment. Additionally, your coverage would include any increased value of the property in the future. Finally, as the loan is paid down, the lender’s coverage decreases.
What does Title Insurance cover?
In essence, title insurance takes a snapshot of the title to your property by means of a title exam performed at the county courthouse. Title insurance would cover errors that appear outside the snapshot of title to the property, such as an incorrect name or incorrect address listing that appear in mortgages, wills or deeds. Title insurance also provides coverage from any liens against your property, like unpaid mortgages, taxes, sewer and water assessments or any bills that were owed by a previous owner of the property. In addition, title insurance covers claims to ownership that might be made by spouses or children of a former property owner. Title insurance also covers items that may not be revealed by the title examination done at the courthouse, such as a forged deed, unstated easement or encumbrance, unrecorded license, or other matters that would take your property from you.
What does Title Insurance not cover?
Mechanic liens are also not included in your coverage. An example of such lien would be for unpaid construction or repair bills on the property.
What is a Title Search? Do I need to have one done?
The Title Search is the first step in obtaining title insurance. A Title Search is a detailed examination of all historical records, deeds and tax records concerning the property you are purchasing. If you are purchasing Title Insurance, our law firm will automatically do a Title Search for you.
How much does Owner’s Title Insurance cost?
Owner’s Title Insurance is a one-time cost that protects the buyer. Owner’s Title Insurance is purchased at the time you buy the property. When amortized over the time that the average person typically owns property, Owner’s Title Insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to safeguard one of your most important assets—your home. Please click here to receive a Title Insurance quote.
Whose responsibility is it to get a termite letter/report?
According to the 2008 purchase contracts, the Buyer has the obligation to get a termite letter/report done for the property they are purchasing. There may be exceptions to this, but the Buyer should always check with their lender to ascertain whether the lender requires a termite letter/report.
What should I expect after closing?
• Your Warranty Deed will be forwarded to the county to be placed of record. Within 2-6 months you will receive the Warranty Deed in the mail at your home address.
• Your Title Policy will be given to you at closing or returned to your home address with your recorded Warranty Deed.
• In order to file for Homestead Exemption, you need to contact your county tax commissioner.
Seller: Your lender will send you any excess payoff funds or escrows within 2-6 weeks after closing.
When will I receive my Warranty Deed?
Your Warranty Deed is sent to the county in which you have purchased property to be filed of record. This process varies from county to county but generally takes about 2-4 weeks. Once filing is complete, your Warranty Deed will be returned to our office where we will scan it into our state-of-the-art document imaging system for future reference. After scanning, we will send it to you via mail to your home address.
What if I lose my Warranty Deed?
Our firm scans each part of your closing file and keeps your file on record indefinitely. Should you misplace your Warranty Deed or other closing documents, you may contact our office at any time to have a copy emailed, mailed or faxed to you. It is also recorded at the courthouse and can be printed off their website.
Should I add someone to title if they are not on the loan?
It is common in closings that a transaction may close in one name but the purchaser wishes the title to be held some other way after closing. There are 2 basic situations to consider:
Spouse will be on title but will NOT be on the loan
If there is a lender involved, the first step is to check that they will allow this to happen. If they do, then typically the lender will have the non-borrowing party sign both the Security Deed and the Truth In Lending document. Therefore, the person being added to title will need to attend the closing ceremony and both names should be listed on the contract.
After closing purchaser wishes to transfer the property into their LLC/Trust, etc.
If there is a typical loan involved, this is a violation of the due-on-sale clause contained in the Security Deed. Many times the parties are willing to take that risk and if so, they will need to have a deed prepared after closing, transferring the property to the name of the desired entity or party. If the lender discovers this, the lender can call the entire loan due. The attorney that handled the closing will not typically be willing to prepare a deed under this circumstance. If a deed is done in this situation, the person being added does not need to be present to sign the deed.
Risks of Adding a Person to Title
1. If the title is changed after closing without the lender’s permission, the lender could call the loan due under the Due on Sale Clause of the Security Deed.
2. If a name is being added to title, it is advised to do a lien search on the name being added. Any lien against that person will attach to the property. The property will not be able to be sold without either paying or cancelling the lien.
3. The person added to title will have to sign any deed to further transfer or encumber the property.
4. Changing the name on the title could invalidate or reduce the coverage under the owner’s title insurance policy.
I closed in June and it is now October. I just received a tax bill from the Houston County Tax Commissioner. Do I owe this bill?
Yes you do. Near the end of every year we receive many calls asking why do I owe the county taxes for the entire year? At closing we pro-rate taxes based usually on the prior year’s tax amount. The seller gives the buyer a credit for their pro-rated share of taxes through that date. For example if the prior years tax bill was $2000.00 and the loan closed on June 1 (exactly 1/2 year), the buyer would receive a credit on the front of the settlement statement for $1000.00. In essence the seller has paid the buyer $1000.00 up-front and then the buyer becomes responsible for the taxes.
If the taxes were to increase from the prior year there is a statement on the third page of the settlement statement that allows the buyer to request more money from the seller for their share of the taxes. For instance, taking the example above, if the actual taxes for the year in which the closing took place turned out to be $3000.00 then the seller should have paid the buyer $1,500.00 instead of $1000.00. The buyer would have the right to seek an additional $500.00 from the seller. Fortunately, taxes seldom make a drastic jump from year to year and most people ignore small increases.
If the closing occurred later in the year and the taxes had already been paid then the buyer would owe the seller the pro-rated share of taxes which they paid. Taxes are due December 20 for most middle Georgia counties.
There are instances where it is difficult to estimate taxes for a current year. This is usually due to new construction where the taxes for the prior year were based on a lot only with no house built. In this instance we usually estimate annual taxes based on the sales price.
Who pays the closing costs in a real estate sale sale?
In Georgia real estate transactions the payment of closing costs are negotiable. If the contract is silent as the payment of closing costs the purchaser will be responsible for the costs. Almost all standard contracts state that the seller will pay the state of Georgia transfer tax which is a $1.00 per thousand based on the sales price. The seller who agrees to pay closing costs should always place a limit on the amount they agree to pay. Normal closing costs for an average size loan run about 3% of the loan amount.
Why should I use an attorney to close my Georgia Real Estate transaction?
The Supreme Court of Georgia has issued an opinion stating that it is unethical for a non-attorney to close a loan in the state of Georgia. This opinion covers re-finances as well as purchase deals.