Living at The Colony is like having your own slice of heaven. Those that don’t live or vacation here strive to, and those that do live or vacation here strive to remain, although sometimes life situations necessitate having to move on. So whether you’re looking to buy into that slice, or have to leave that slice behind, it’s important to surround yourself with a team of qualified, informed professionals to guide you through the process.
The first and most important step is to select a knowledgeable, qualified real estate agent who is intimately familiar with the community, understands all the nuances of The Colony, and can sell both the product and the lifestyle. The second most important step is to select a good closing agent or representative to handle the transaction. It is customary in Lee County for a seller to pay the premium for issuance of an owner’s title insurance policy for the benefit of the buyer (to establish the Seller has marketable title to the property and back it up with title insurance coverage), and to select the closing agent to issue said title insurance. A Buyer in Lee County will typically retain an attorney (not a title company since title insurance is being issued by the Seller’s closing agent) to review the documents prepared by the Seller’s closing agent and otherwise represent the Buyer in all aspects of the purchase transaction.
A common missperception is that only title companies can act as closing agents and handle closings, and attorneys get involved only when issues or disputes arise. The truth is that either an attorney or title company may act in that capacity; in fact, they are direct competitors. Nearly all real estate attorneys are title agents and several, this author included, make their living handling closings and issuing title insurance. One would argue that hiring an attorney to act as closing agent reduces the likelihood of having issues or disputes. Another common misperception is that attorneys’ closing fees are higher than those of a title company, when in fact, they are very competitive.
The roles and functions of attorneys and title companies differ greatly. An attorney handling your sale or purchase transaction can answer legal questions and dispense legal advice, resolve legal issues, and generally represent your interests exclusive of all others’. A title company essentially represents the transaction, and when legal issues, disputes and matters arise, must refer their customer to an attorney.
A thorough discussion of this topic requires more space than this newsletter can accommodate, so I will conclude with this thought: sale and purchase transactions are equal parts excitement and stress. Minimize the stress and maximize the excitement by making informed and reasoned decisions when selecting your representatives …your slice of heaven depends on it.
Note: Ms. Harmon is a sole practitioner with the law firm Holly A. Harmon, Chartered. She is a graduate of Florida State College of Law and has practiced real estate law for 26 years, 24 of those exclusively in real estate. Her office number is (239) 596-0886.