Residential Real Estate Closings
Refinance Transactions
Purchase & Sale Representation
Lender Representation
Condominium Conversions

Offer to Purchase, Purchase and Sale Agreements, Closing

For the Buyer, if it hasn’t already, the sudden reality of buying a home will definitely hit you at the closing.  Along with the excitement, the deed and the shiny new keys comes a stack of paperwork.  For both Buyer and Seller, it is important to understand the events leading up to the real estate closing.  The most important thing either party can do to protect himself or herself is to hire a lawyer early on before an Offer to Purchase is submitted or accepted.  Because a home is usually the single largest investment that anyone makes, if you are to thoroughly protect yourself, you cannot cut corners by trying to represent yourself or relying on non-legal professionals.  If you do, you might simply end up with a lawsuit instead of the home of your dreams.

Buying and Selling a home involves the following steps:

Step 1. The Offer to Purchase and the Purchase and Sale Agreement

Normally, an Offer to Purchase is made by the home Buyer to the Seller and once accepted, a real estate contract called the Purchase and Sale Agreement (or “P&S”) is signed shortly thereafter.  Despite what anyone might tell you, an Offer to Purchase may be a binding contract even if you never actually sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement.  This means that if either party attempts to walk away before signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement, the other party can ask a court of law to compel the other side to go forward.  In addition, it is important to note that there is nothing “standard” about the so called “Standard Form” Purchase and Sale Agreement, as it must be specifically tailored to each transaction.  In order to draft these documents properly, both parties need to know which disclosures the Seller must make.  It is therefore, always in your best interest to hire a competent real estate lawyer as soon as possible to prevent costly mistakes and to understand the full legal consequences of the transaction.

Step 2. The Mortgage Lender's Attorney Begins the Title Exam

After signing the P&S, the home buyer’s lender places a request for a title exam (an examination of the home ownership history), tax information, and begins preparing any necessary paperwork.  Each home has a series of documents recorded at the local Registry of Deeds that reflect prior owners, lenders, and other parties who have or had an interest in the home.  These documents are examined to identify all outstanding interests.  In Massachusetts, most reputable mortgage lenders will allow the Buyer to use his or her own real estate attorney to conduct the closing.  We strongly encourage this practice among our clients or else and attorney that you do not know will be responsible for your ensuring your well being.  Using your lender’s attorney may also be more expensive.  If your lender is willing to ignore your wishes and requires you to use their attorney, it might be grounds for suspicion on your behalf.  In the event that you do lose confidence in your mortgage lender, please let us know and we will be happy to provide you with referrals.  There are plenty of reputable mortgage lenders in the area who not only respect their clients but who are also willing to match or beat existing terms.  A good lender will make all the difference!

Step 3. Mortgage Issues are Addressed

The mortgage lender’s attorney works with the Buyer’s lender.