In Georgia who has the legal right to choose the closing attorney?

Recently I had a listing agent counter that the closing attorney would be "seller's choice". Um, perhaps said agent hasn't read the contract.  Let me show you.

Yup that's right, it's in the contract that the BUYER shall have the right to select the closing attorney. So many times agents seem to think their seller can choose if they agree to pay some closing costs, but it's not the case.

In many Georgia foreclosure sales the seller has their own attorney and tries to make the buyer use their closing attorney.  I've had attorney offices argue with me about my buyer not being "allowed" to use their own attorney.  They even tried to "bribe" them with FREE title insurance.  I advise my buyer clients to hire their own closing attorney and they sometimes ask "Why do I need my own attorney if the seller will provide me with one?"

Well if it's the seller's attorney, who do you think he represents?  And do you actually think he would care about your best interests?  And do you realized that title policy he gives you leaves a gap period?  Do you know what a gap period is?  Well the closing attorney I recommend explains to my buyers what the gap period is and why their title insurance policy is not issued at closing, but instead AFTER their new deed is recorded. 

The gap.... is the time between when the seller signs the deed after a title search has already been conducted and the deed is recorded.
  For example if the seller had work done on the home on Tuesday, sold it on Friday and didn't pay the contractor and on Monday before the deed is filed that contractor who did the prior work files a lien on the home it would fall in the gap period.  And attorney who represents the seller is not going to "re-check" title from previous time of check until new deed is recorded and then issue title insurance where the gap is closed, but the attorney I recommend will be doing that because he represents YOU the buyer.

And if you are a cash buyer the attorney represents YOU the buyer.  If you are a buyer obtaining a loan the closing attorney will represent YOUR lender.  But never the seller.  So you came to me because you wanted to be represented as a buyer, shouldn't you also have an attorney on your side?  I think so.

I have also seen it cost hundreds of dollars more for a buyer to use the seller's attorney.  The last foreclosure we had where buyers were "sucked in" by the "free" title insurance... I can assure you they paid paid three prices for it in attorney fees. It is worth paying for your own title policy to have an attorney or your side or at least on your lenders side to provide you with a good title search. We have one in the wings now waiting for a "re" foreclosure because it wasn't a proper and legal foreclosure.  Do you think the attorney who did it wrong for the seller would have caught the mistake?  I don't.

If you have questions about real estate I am willing to find you the answers.  We work hard for our clients. 

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Tammy Lankford, Broker/Owner


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Comment balloon 8 commentsTammy Lankford, • September 05 2016 09:12PM


It's so interesting to read how different areas handle the real estate process! Here, it's a give that each side has their own real estate attorney.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, over 2 years ago

Great title and I am sure you will be helping out a ton of folks with this post!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 2 years ago

Tammy, I'm always amazed at listing agents who try to say the sellers will choose the closing attorney. I see it in the listing remarks here frequently. Great post for buyers in Georgia, I am sure many will find this information very useful.

Posted by Amanda S. Davidson, Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale (Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group) over 2 years ago

I couldn't agree with you more. We see closing attorneys put in the listings all the time and totally disregard them in favor of our own when it comes time to submit an offer. Protect your client and yourself.

Posted by Rebecca Lewis (ODAT Realty Services, Inc) over 2 years ago

Here, sellers and buyers can chose their own attorneys. I find most of the time, buyers will use the seller's attorneys, or vice versa.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty, Martha Hilton, Broker) over 2 years ago

Hi Tammy, this is great information for buyers in your area. Our buyers and sellers each have their own attorney. And of course, the attorney for the buyer also represents their lender. 

Funny how it is different all over the country!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 2 years ago

We don't have to use attorney's out here, but we often still have disagreements about whom should choose the title agency.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) over 2 years ago

We have some bully agents that try that in my area. Sometimes it doesn't matter to either party, it is the bullyng I don't like.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) over 2 years ago