Real Estate Law
Buying a home
Buying a home can be long and complicated so it’s important to engage a team of professionals to assist you throughout the entire process. Your team should include an attorney, a realtor/real estate agent, a lender and a home inspector. Selecting a knowledgeable and professional realtor is essential to getting the information you need regarding the properties you will be viewing. The seller’s real estate agent does not represent you in any way and will not protect you. Instead, you need to hire a real estate agent that will represent you as a buyer's agent. The buyer's agent, which comes at no cost to you, will educate and guide you through this sometimes difficult process, utilizing the relationships they have built with other professionals to assist you. In the end, your buyer’s agent will receive a percentage of the real estate commission paid by the seller to the listing agent.
Contract to Purchase (also known as the Offer) and Purchase and Sale Agreement.
Once you find the home of your dreams, you’ll want to present an offer to purchase to the seller. Once both you, the purchaser, and the seller have signed that offer/contract to purchase, it is a valid and enforceable contract. The next step involves the preparation and signing of the purchase and sale agreement. A knowledgeable realtor and an attorney are essential to help you through this process.
Once your lender has your signed purchase and sale agreement, they will then order the title from the attorney‘s office of your choice. Typically, your lender will have a list of attorneys that they have pre-approved, so, in essence, this attorney represents the lender. However, your interest and the lender's interest are aligned here. In most cases, it is not necessary for the buyer to have an attorney to represent him or her individually.
Once the attorney‘s office receives the request for the title from the lender, they will order a title examination, a plot plan, and a municipal lien certificate. They will also begin gathering information to request loan payoffs for the seller and any other liens that may need to be discharged or released.
Our attorneys perform and review title examinations for Massachusetts properties. Title examinations are important to lenders and buyers because it shows the history of the parcel to be purchased and will indicate if there is a title issue with the property prior to the closing.
A title issue might include an improperly discharged mortgage or undischarged mortgages as well as tax or other liens against the property. The attorney will then begin the process of discharging those liens or collecting payoffs which will then enable them to be discharged or released.
The history of a property includes the current owners and all past owners over the last 50 plus years. All of the past owners' names are researched for past liens on the property and other impediments including covenants, restrictions, or easements that stay with the land and continue to encumber the land throughout ownership changes.
Our office's goal is to ensure that both the lender and the buyer are obtaining a clear title to the property, that liens are paid off and any encumbrances are brought to the attention of the lender and the buyer.
Part of our title search includes running the buyer's names for tax liens as federal tax liens attach after-acquired property. So, for example, if there is a tax lien against you recorded in 2019 and you purchase a property in 2022, the new property will be subject to that tax lien from 2019. Part of our job as the lender's attorney includes ensuring that there are no such liens outstanding.
The Closing and recording
On the day of closing, all parties gather at the attorney's office to sign all of the documents to convey the property to the buyer and to encumber the property with the new mortgage lender. Once all documents are signed, certain documents will be recorded at the registry of deeds. When recording documents at the Registry, we first update the title search to see any documents that may have been recorded since the original title search. Once our search is up-to-date and we are confident that the title is clear, we will record the municipal lien certificate, the deed, the mortgage, and a declaration of homestead (if this will be your principal residence).
Our office now records most documents electronically. We use a platform to which we upload the original documents which are then sent to the Registry Of Deeds electronically for recording. Once the documents from the closing are recorded, the property is officially transferred and the buyer becomes the new owner.