angel670, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

Is it alright for a first time home buyer to use the same lawyer used for the p&s agreement for closing?

Asked by angel670, Boston, MA Thu May 24, 2012

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Ronn Huth, Agent, Wenham, MA
Fri May 25, 2012
This is a practice that is often done, but it may not be the best approach. Buyers will often be offered this service "FREE" as a service of the lender who engages the attorney to do the closing for them. It seems like it's hard to beat the price, but then there's the old adage, "you get what you pay for".

Keep in mind that the attorney primarily works for the lender; not you. Most of the time the goals of the buyer and the goals of the lender are one in the same. So in most instances using the closing attorney as your buyers' attorney can work out just fine. But remember, it's that attorney's responsibility to close the loan for the bank.

Let's say you've just done the final walk-through and you are unhappy with the condition of the home after the owners move out. If you have a reason to believe funds should be escrowed to take care of any issues uncovered like dented walls, badly stained wall-to-wall carpet, a lot of "stuff" left behind that you wanted removed, etc., will that attorney advocate on your behalf or will s/he step back and do little or nothing to help? My experience is that they say it is something the buyers, sellers, and brokers need to work out rather than being pro-active on the buyer's behalf.

If you are going to use the bank's attorney to function as your buyer's attorney, make certain you know up front what s/he is going to do for you. Will they add protective clauses or riders to the P&S for you? Will they explain the contract to you paragraph by paragraph before you sign it? Will they talk to the seller's attorney on your behalf and negotiate any legal issues that may come up? These are some of the many ways it could be better to have your own attorney representing you rather than doubling up by using the bank's attorney.

Again, most of time it won't hurt you to use the bank's attorney. They are going to do the title search for the bank and that will protect both you and the bank. But if there is ever an issue between you and the bank, guess whose side that attorney is on?

If you're going to use an attorney to do the P&S for you, regardless of what bank you end up using to close the transaction, then you can have an on-going relationship with that same attorney. If, for example, you change lenders mid-stream for one of numerous reasons that might make sense to you, will that person continue to be "your attorney"?

So the fact that your attorney would be able to close for multiple lenders and would not fight you to switch lenders, then you can feel more comfortable that this attorney is primarily looking out for your best interest. If that attorney ends up closing for you, they may waive the fee for doing your P&S and any up-front work. They will still be paid to do the closing and they will get an even larger payment for writing the title insurance policy.

You've asked a very good and controversial question. It's really up to you, and it's usually not a major problem. But in my experience, the best approach is to have your own attorney and let the bank have theirs.

Ronn Huth (800) 252-8937
2 votes
Great answer, Remember: "He who pays the piper calls the tune"
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Flag Fri May 25, 2012
Mark D. Stri…, , Boston, MA
Sun May 27, 2012
This practice is perfectly fine in MA. However, ask your Buyer Agent to offer you a list of (optional for you to use, of course) his or her recommend attorneys, who have presumably been prescreened by repeated use and client satisfaction.
1 vote
Louis Wolfs…, Agent, Needham, MA
Fri May 25, 2012
It is fine to do, but remember that the banks interest are different than yours. The bank wants a good, clear marketable title. You do as well, but you may have an intended use for the property, ie: you want to have horses. Which may not be allowed, by the zoning and or deed restrictions.

Make sure your intended use and concerns are made very clear.

Good luck
1 vote
Heath Coker, Agent, Falmouth, MA
Sun Jun 3, 2012
Bank attorneys will often review a P & S for a buyer.
I am not a legal advisor / attorney, however my experience is that the attorney who does so, is not working for the buyer.
This is a practice that goes on to help real estate transactions, but it isn't the best way to use an attorney.
Having your own attorney will cost a little more, but then if something comes up, I believe that you have more standing with that attorney than with a bank's attorney who "did a favor for a buyer."

(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
0 votes
Territory.c…, Agent, MA,
Tue May 29, 2012
Yes, it happens all the time in Massachusetts. Looks like the attorney's below gave you some great advice. Glad this platform helped.
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angel670, Home Buyer, Boston, MA
Mon May 28, 2012
Thanks Ronn Huth, along with the other attorneys. This has been most informative to me. It made me ask my attorney some additional questions and get some reassuring feedback. THANKS AGAIN, especially for answering right away. Hope all of you have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday. (:
0 votes
You are most welcome. Glad it was helpful for you. Sounds like you have applied what information you gathered.
Flag Sun Jun 3, 2012
Bobby Woofter, Agent, Boston, MA
Fri May 25, 2012
It is okay but like a few have mentioned before me not always in your best interest. It can save you some money but you do not have anyone looking out for your interests, only the sellers. If anything seems the least bit unusual about the deal get your own attorney so you can have someone representing you and negotiating for you throughout the process.
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0 votes
Mathew Ames, Agent, Duxbury, MA
Fri May 25, 2012
If you can stick with one attorney, you are saving yourself time and money. Don't be afraid, it's almost over!
0 votes
Kevin McDerm…, Agent, reading, MA
Fri May 25, 2012
It is common practice and helps the buyer save some money. I can't remember a situation where my client was not properly represented when using the same attorney as the lender. It also enables a more direct line of communication between the buyer, seller and lender representatives and helps to expedite the process and avoid some pitfalls. That said, if your purchase involves use/zoning issues, or other complicated legal matters that require more work than the average transaction, it's better to use an experienced local real estate attorney who has a proven track record.

Good luck, I hope everything goes well!
0 votes
Roland Vinya…, Agent, Sprakers, NY
Fri May 25, 2012
In our area, the real estate agent normally drafts the P&S agreement. If an attorney writes it, then in almost every case it is the same one who represents one party or the other at the closing. Sometimes there are 3 attorneys involved - the bank's, the buyer's and the seller's.

My rule of thumb is that more attorneys present, the longer the closing takes.
0 votes
CH Naamad, Agent, Boston, MA
Thu May 24, 2012
you can choose any lawyer you want any time you want. If you are not happy with your lawyer, you can fire them. You are the one paying for their service, and not vice versa.
0 votes
Sarah Goulart…, Agent, Plymouth, MA
Thu May 24, 2012
I think your question is if it is ok to use the same attorney as your buyers attorney AND if he/she acts on behalf of the bank as the closing attorney, correct?
0 votes
Flag Thu May 24, 2012
Mary Crane, Agent, Dover, MA
Thu May 24, 2012
Yes that is customary and hopefully you are using a real estate attorney.
0 votes
Greer Swiston, Agent, Newton, MA
Thu May 24, 2012
Sure! Do you feel that he/she was watching out for your best interests? It's very common for the buyer's attorney to also do the closing.
0 votes
Thanks, and yes i guess i am just a little nervous. Closing is coming up real soon.
Flag Thu May 24, 2012
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