In Georgia, real estate closings are governed by the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and various licensing and appraiser laws and regulations that are administered by the Georgia Real Estate Commission.
Unlike some states, in Georgia, all real estate closings must be handled by a licensed real estate closing attorney who represents the lender, not the buyer or the seller. Nevertheless, the closing attorney is bound to operate in the interests of all parties.
Brokers are not permitted to prepare the legal documents for real estate closings or to conduct the closing. The appointed GA real estate attorney must be present at the closing and in control of the process from start to finish.
Presuming you are applying for a mortgage to finance your home, unless you have been pre-approved, once your offer to purchase has been accepted, you will find the best mortgage opportunity and apply for a loan. When it has been approved, you will be liable for several application and appraisal fees and then the closing procedure begins. This is likely to take about 50 days but it could take longer.
There are many issues that can delay a real estate closing, but the most common is the time it takes to get a loan approved. By getting pre-approval, buyers can usually reduce the time frame.
Other issues that can cause delays include:
- The need to sell a property to close the deal
- Title issues including tax lien
- Disparities in appraisals needed to get mortgage approval
- Repairs required after a home inspection that could have been done previously
- Failure of new homeowners to secure the insurance needed before they can move in
Procedure for Real Estate Closings in Georgia
The real estate closing attorney will draw up all the necessary paperwork to close the deal. Whether you are the buyer or seller, it’s a good idea to have a real estate attorney check this documentation before the closing. You won’t have anything to do with the closing attorney until the closing!
Two forms need to be completed by the lender:
- A 3-page loan estimate
- A 5-page closing disclosure
The loan estimate incorporates a “good faith estimate” of what settlement services will cost as well as truth-in-lending information that reveals information about finance charges, annual percentage rates, and payments due on loans.
As a matter of course, borrowers are warned about unfair and illegal practices so that they know their rights.
Closing disclosures including a final disclosure statement as well as a settlement statement that lists all the charges and credits due by or to buyers and sellers. This has to be given to the buyer at least three days before the mortgage loan is consummated.
The closing attorney will make certain that all documents are completed correctly and that all relevant affidavits, deeds, and other documents get delivered to the right people.
Prior to closing, buyers receive the two forms mentioned up. In addition, they need to take several other items to the closing:
- Identification documents.
- A copy of the declaration page from a hazard or homeowner’s insurance policy.
- Proof of power of attorney if needed.
- Any other documents required by the closing attorney possibly including tax returns.
- Sufficient funds to cover closing costs. Georgia law requires anything above $5,000 to be drawn on the closing attorney’s trust account or in the form of wired funds.
Ultimately, the only way to speed up a real estate closing is to stick to the deadlines and get everything done without wasting time. The closing attorney and real estate attorneys employed by buyers and sellers are pivotal in this. If everyone is informed and everyone does what is required of them efficiently, a real estate closing won’t drag on for longer than it should.
Real Estate and Closing Attorneys
Slepian, Schwartz & Landgaard are based in Peachtree City, Georgia and can help you with residential and commercial transactions. When we are appointed as closing attorneys we do everything possible to speed up the process. When appointed by buyers and sellers to cover their concerns, we do what we can to help the process stay on track and on time.