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Do we need a real estate attorney present at closing?

Houston, TX |

I have made an offer on a lot in Texas which was accepted. Once we started getting everything for the title together, we found out that there are several liens (in an amount almost equal to the property purchase price) on the property. The title company and the sellers assure us that everything will be taken care of at closing, but I'm wondering if we need to have someone there on our behalf to ensure we are protected.

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Attorney answers 3


It would be wise to have an attorney represent you in this transaction. I suggest that you look at the value of the property and the transaction to help arrive at a budget for what you want to spend and then work with an attorney who will stay within that budget and will not exceed it without first consulting with you and then getting your written permission to got beyond the set amount. The attorney will probably require to you to pay whatever you set as a budget up front as an "initial fee" or "retainer". IF you do this then you need to be sure that the amount that is paid is fully "refundable" for any amount not used. In my opinion little or none of the amount you pay up front should be non refundable except for the hours actually worked by the attorney and the expenses actually incurred. By the same token make sure that expenses are also handled and that they are either included in the overall budget or you have a separate budget and agreement for any expenses. I would think that they would be fairly minimal. I suggest you look for a Board Certified attorney in Real Estate Law. You can use the link before to find some attorneys in your area. You may have to call more than one to get one that will work with you. Good luck,

Remember that most legal issues may be more complex and require more information to answer than what you can provide in this forum. This is not a substitute for contacting an attorney of your choice to get legal advice.


Mr. Jones is correct. However, the title company is showing those liens on Schedule C of the Commitment for Title Insurance in order to show you (and your lender, if one) what is the present status of title that they are committed to insure. You should obtain an Owner Policy of Title Insurance. If you do, the title company will insure you against any liens, includingthose liens which they show on Schedule C of the commitment and which they will pay off with proceeds from teh closing of the sale. If you later build on the lot, you can get a credit for the amount of premium paid for the Owner Policy insuring the lot.

Most real estate closings in Texas occur without an attorney representing the purchaser or seller. But, you certainly can have one represent you if you so desire. Either way, get the Owner Policy - it is well worth the cost and you will get full credit for it whenever you build on the lot and buy a policy insuring the new construction.


You really should get the closing papers ahead of time, and have a real estate attorney review them. You particularly need the title policy commitment paperwork and the settlement closing statement. The schedules to the title commitment paperwork will show what the title company is insuring against, and what it is excluding from coverage. The most important part are the exclusions. You want to make sure that there are no exclusions for any prior liens.

On the closing statement, there should be line items for payoff of the liens. You should review the statement to see that some or all of your money (plus whatever is needed from the seller) will go toward releasing the liens. Bottom line, you want to make sure that you are getting the property lien-free, with no exclusions for seller-related liens. You may have your own lien for your lender's financing (if you have one).

Buying a little of an attorney's time in advance of the closing is money well spent.

Good luck.

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