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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Be Careful of "Witness Only" Closings

In Georgia, almost all real estate closings are performed by an attorney and closed at that attorney's office. However, there are some closings that are performed without the presence and supervision of an attorney. These are commonly known as "witness only closings" or "mail away closings."

What is a Witness Only closing?  In a witness only closing, the closing documents are prepared by the closing law firm at one location and delivered to the purchaser at another location.  The closing can take place at the real estate agent's office, the purchaser's residence, a local attorney's office, or any other place that has access to a notary public.  However, there is generally no one present at the closing to supervise the execution of documents and to answer any questions the purchaser may have.  

What are the risks? Understandably, problems can arise as a result of a witness only closing.  For example, many times the documents are improperly witnessed, contain typographical errors, have errors in the description of the property, are improperly recorded or are not recorded in a timely manner.  People may participate in a witness only closing because of a perceived savings in closing costs.  However, what appears to be a savings in the short-term may end up costing a purchaser a great deal of money in the long term.

What should I do?  If you are asked to participate in a witness only closing, please contact an attorney with real estate experience to thoroughly review your closing documents, perform a title search and to represent your interests at the closing.

Smith, Welch, Webb and White is recognized as a premier law firm throughout the state of Georgia. We have an uncompromising commitment to serving our clients and our community. Our team of experts routinely handles a wide range of legal matters, and will provide outstanding service for you, your family or your business. For more information on this topic, email Scott Mayfield at smayfield@smithwelchlaw.com or call him at 770-358-3630. 

 

Any representations regarding the law in this Blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


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