For most people, the purchase or sale of a home will likely be the largest financial transaction they will enter into in their lives. From the time you (or your clients, if you are a real estate agent) make a decision to buy or sell a home or investment property, you must make a number of important decisions that have legal consequences. To mitigate the risk associated with making the wrong or uninformed legal decisions, it pays to have experienced legal counsel on your side.

Five Reasons You Should Choose a Real Estate Attorney Over a Title and Escrow Company

Unlike many states that require the use of an attorney in a real estate transaction, the law in Virginia gives buyers and sellers a choice of using an attorney or a title and escrow company to handle their real estate settlement. When faced with this decision, knowledgeable parties and real estate professionals know that having good legal counsel can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth transaction in which the parties’ interests are protected. Here are just a few of the reasons to hire Alperin Law to protect your real estate investment:

Reason #1:  We Protect Buyers and Sellers Against Unanticipated Risks, at Little or No Additional Cost.

While cookie-cutter deals with no issues that involve the boilerplate, pre-printed real estate contract forms are every buyer, seller and real estate agent’s dream, unfortunately many transactions don’t happen as effortlessly as we would like. If you have an experienced real estate attorney on your side from the beginning of the transaction, you’ve essentially protected your client against unanticipated circumstances at a cost comparable to the fee charged by title companies, with a plethora of added benefits. 
The most common reasons why real estate transactions fail to close are that the parties end up disagreeing about material terms of the contract, or title defects arise that cannot be easily cured. With several decades of real estate experience, the attorneys at Alperin Law have the unique skills, training, and capability to spot issues early on which, if not addressed prior to closing, can either kill the deal or present expensive and time-consuming issues for the parties post-closing.  We’ve encountered and resolved just about every title issue that could possibly come up, often after a title and escrow company wasn’t able to resolve the problem. 

Reason #2:  We Can Help Draft and Negotiate Necessary Legal Documents and Contract Addenda to Protect the Parties and Facilitate Settlement.  

Many situations require contract addenda, non-standard legal documents, or changes to standard documents to address specific issues regarding the property, the parties, and title requirements. The experienced real estate attorneys at Alperin Law can draft these documents, whereas, a title company is precluded from doing so because it would constitute the unauthorized practice of law.  In most cases, Alperin Law can prepare contract addenda and other relevant documents (such as powers of attorney) needed to close at little or no additional cost to the parties, which in turn provides added value to clients. A title company cannot.  

Reason #3:  We Know How to Solve Difficult Title Problems that Can Otherwise Prevent or Delay Settlement.  

If the title search or survey reveals a potential defect, our attorneys can provide legal advice to effectively and efficiently cure the issue and prepare the necessary corrective documents so the parties can close quickly, again generally at little or no additional cost.  Conversely, the ability of a title company to prepare curative documents is extremely limited.  Additionally, title companies are not permitted to provide legal advice or guidance when title issues arise. When a title company serves as the closing agent and a title issue or dispute between the parties threatens to kill the deal, the parties may be forced to scramble to hire an attorney—a significant additional expense—to address the issues and obtain guidance.  

Reason #4: We Provide Solid Legal Advice and Accountability.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to using attorneys as settlement agents is the fact that title agents do not have law degrees and cannot provide legal advice, input, or guidance, and they often simply don’t have the knowledge or experience to address complex legal problems that arise. The employees at a title company are unable to provide answers to legal questions during settlement. Their responsibility is to their employer, and in most cases an attorney employed by a title company will not be physically present or available at closing. The title company’s role is to prepare the basic closing documents required by the title insurer to complete the transaction and issue the title insurance policy. 

Choosing a real estate attorney to assist you during the process of buying or selling a home means that you will have access to legal advice when it is needed. The real estate attorney that you retain keeps your best interest in mind and is not burdened by the conflicts of interest that a title company may have. A title company works for the title insurer and must focus on protecting their business, while an attorney focuses on protecting you, their client. Also, attorneys have an ethical responsibility to represent the client’s interests, to advocate for their client and must answer to the State Bar.  Title companies are accountable to no one and don’t have an obligation to protect anyone’s interests.

Reason # 5: We Offer Affordable Fees with Added Value That Are Often Less Than Those Charged by Title Companies. 

One of the primary reasons people choose title companies instead of real estate attorneys is because they believe a title company is less expensive. In reality, many title companies are more expensive than an attorney while offering fewer services. Title companies often add miscellaneous “junk” fees into transactions to make the most profit possible per transaction. These fees do not give clients access to protection from potential closing errors, and many title companies are rarely prepared to handle complex real estate transactions that some investors or commercial property owners complete.  The costs of hiring an attorney vs. a title company are comparable. Many closing costs such as title insurance premiums, documentary stamps, and recording costs are set by the Commonwealth of Virginia. They are the same whether an attorney or a title agent is facilitating the process. Using an attorney can actually save the parties money by performing double duty as an attorney and a title agent; a title agent cannot do the same.

Reason #6:  We Offer Services to Facilitate the Closing That Others Don’t.   

At Alperin Law, we want to make working with us as easy as possible. From beginning to end we offer services that save time, increase communications and offer closing flexibility that is hard to beat. First, our online closing portal keeps you informed. By using this secure portal, you can upload documents, see vital information about your transaction and communicate with us in a secure environment. You have access to your file 24-7, allowing you to communicate on your schedule. 
Second, with e-recording we can often disburse funds on the day of closing. This is not always possible but it is an option when closing is conducted early enough in the day. Real Estate agents, sellers and buyers benefit from a quick disbursement. 

Third, we offer unmatched closing location flexibility. We have multiple convenient locations for conducting closings, and we are licensed to practice law and to handle real estate transactions in Virginia and North Carolina. In addition, for your convenience, we can close in your office or your home. 
Fourth, we make it convenient and easy to get the earnest money deposit out of your hands and into escrow. We offer a service that allows you to upload the check directly to us. No more running around with checks in hand. Simply, scan the check into the app from your mobile device and get a receipt. Done!

Contact An Experienced Real Estate Attorney For Advice.

Real estate transactions are often time sensitive and stressful, making proper representation vital. The best way to protect your interests is to work with an experienced real estate attorney. Alperin Law is available to help you during every stage of your real estate transaction. As part of our goal to make your closing as convenient and stress-free as possible, we handle closings in Virginia and North Carolina, and our staff is available seven (7) days a week should you have questions related to the purchase/sale of residential or commercial real estate. To learn more about the real estate services at Alperin Law, contact us at 757-490-3500.

Scott Alperin
Experienced Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney Serving Virginia Beach Area Clients Since 1994.