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Massachusetts recognizes that lawyers and not closing companies or title companies are qualified to do real estate closings. Thus, in the vast majority of cases a lender is represented by an attorney. Generally it is the duty of the attorney to protect the interests of the lender and not the borrower and certainly not the seller. In many instances the lender's attorney also represents the buyer as both the lender and the buyer have similar, yet different issues and objectives. The lender wants a good clear first mortgage on the property and the buyer wants a good, clear title to the property. It is for that reason that lawyers can and do represent both the buyer and the lender. It is a conflict of interest however it is a conflict of interest that both the buyer and lender can waive so long as the attorney has properly explained the conflict and so long as the attorney can see no existing conflict. However once a conflict develops the attorney must step aside. It is taboo for the attorney to represent the seller in that situation. Sellers are typically represented by their own counsel or not at all. At the closing the lender's attorney has already conducted a title examination, obtained a survey, and a municipal lien certificate from the town showing any outstanding taxes owed. The lender's attorney prepares the HUD settlement statement showing how much each of the parties have to bring to closing (as in the case of the buyer) and how much they will get (as in the case of the seller). At my last closing I determined that a buyer signs his/her name an average of thirty eight times to documents ranging from the HUD settlement statement to the document that says that you'll sign other documents in the event that they need it after the closing. By and large the important documents are the note, mortgage, deed, and HUD settlement statement. The note evidences the debt; the mortgage (Latin definition: Death Grip) secures the real estate to the note in case you don't pay; the deed transfers title; and the HUD settlement statement tells you how much you're going to pay for the "piece of the rock". Once all of these documents are signed, the attorney runs down the title from the date of his examination to the date, hour, and minute of the recording and then puts the documents to record. And Bingo...you're a home owner who has fulfilled the American dream. You will be offered title insurance as buyer. Take it..its good for you. If you don't and there is a title problem Attorney So and So may not be around to stand behind their work even though they certified the title to you.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified real estate lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local real estate attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.