Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I really need an attorney?
The short answer, if you are getting a mortgage, is yes. Under Massachusetts law, a mortgage lender must have an attorney assigned to handle a real estate closing and certify title (M.G.L c.93 s.70).
Q: Will the attorney review my documents for me?
Absolutely! As the law firm for your transaction, we will review and negotiate the legal aspects of your Purchase and Sales agreement, as well as any accompanying documents, to make sure that your interests are protected, and that the lender is able to meet the terms of the contract.
We will also help you understand some of the other hard-to-deal-with documents you will encounter during your purchase, like condominium master deeds and trust documents, plot plans, municipal lien certificates, etc. When in doubt, just ask your attorney.
Q: What is title?
Okay, this might not even be a question you were thinking of asking, but it bears mentioning that, contrary to what most people assume, the “title” to your home is not just the Deed you receive at closing. Title is a legal status comprised of all of the facts surrounding a given property, particularly facts documented on public record. The seller’s mortgage, the easement to the phone company letting them install and maintain phone lines, and the part of the seller’s property the town took to build a sidewalk 30 years ago could all be part of your title.
It is your attorney’s job to make sure that the title you are getting is “marketable,” which means the title is free from restrictions that would cause you problems during your use of the property, or would cause you any problems selling the property to someone else in the future. At your closing, you will receive a certification of title.
Q: Okay, so do I need title insurance?
Your lender will, 100% of the time, get a title insurance policy to protect their investment in your property. In the event of a total title-related loss, this policy could only pay the lender up to the amount of the loan. The vast majority of buyers purchase an owner’s title insurance policy as well, taking advantage of the steep discount you get when you get your policy simultaneously with the lender.
The coverage of owner’s title insurance is pretty broad, but the short version is that it covers you against anything that might not have come up in your attorney’s title work and protects the full value of the property.
Owner’s title insurance is recommended for almost all buyers, as it is a relatively inexpensive one-time premium that can be invaluable to protect what is in most cases your biggest investment. Most closing attorneys assume that you will want title insurance, so if you do want to opt
out please call so we can discuss.
Q: What do I owe you?
Our fee is part of your closing costs, and in many cases is determined by your lender. However, it generally costs between $500 and $900, plus certain fixed costs. The costs are the price of the title search, the fee for the surveyor to make a plot plan, the fee the town charges to generate a municipal lien certificate, and other costs that are transaction-specific. In the case of a cash-only transaction, the fee is $1,500, inclusive of costs. If you are a U.S. Armed Forces Veteran, make sure you let us know and we will apply a discount to your settlement fee as thanks for your service to our country.