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Real Estate

Purchasing or refinancing a home is often the single most important and expensive investment of an individual's life.  In Delaware, it is required to have attorney representation at real estate closings.  The Law Office of Bayard Marin is able to represent any of the involved parties, including, buyers, sellers, and lenders, to facilitate the closing process.  We will counsel you in all areas of the transaction.  We'll start by examining the sales contract and we'll review your title search to make sure all liens against the property are paid off and to resolve any boundary disputes.  Boundary disputes include fences built "over the line", improvements that are not compatible with the neighbor's use or enjoyment of his or her property, roads or driveways that cross over a neighbor's property or nuisances on property.  An experienced real estate attorney can help find a solution for a boundary dispute.  We'll also review any deed restrictions on the property to ensure your intended use of the property is permitted.  Then we'll review any mortgage documents and handle the closing to make sure everything is handled smoothly and with no worries to you.  We can help with:

- Preparation of sales agreements

- Deed preparation

- Review of documents

- Clearing prior mortgages

- Handling all applicable filings

- Help cure any title defects

- Construction loans

- Residential Real Estate Closings

- Purchases

- 2nd Mortgages/ Home Equity loans

- Reviewing Deed Restrictions

Our firm offers full representation with  fees explained upfront so there is no misunderstanding.  Attorney representation for purchases (with mortgages or bank owned properties) and refinance transactions is a flat fee of $350.00.  Cash Purchases (other than bank owned properties) are handled for a flat fee of $200.00.  Deed preparation only (including transfer tax affidavits) is offered for $150.00.

A title search would be required for any transaction with a mortgage but is highly recommended for cash transactions as well.  A title search will disclose whether there are any liens on the property, whether a previous foreclosure was handled property, and help the closing attorney to resolve any issues prior to closing the transaction.  Title searches vary upon where the property is located.  Our office orders title searches through Fidelity National Title Company.  Their fees are as follows:

- New Castle County - $115.00

- Kent County - $140.00

- Sussex County - $ 165.00

Frequently Asked Questions about Closing

I want to sell my house but don't have a realtor, what do I do?

You can call our office and an attorney will be happy to help you prepare the necessary disclosures for potential buyers.  In most cases, it is necessary to fill out a Radon Gas Disclosure, Lead Based Paint Disclosure, and Seller's Disclosure of Real Property Condition Report.  Our office can also act as the escrow agent and hold your buyer's deposit until closing.

My realtor or lender has recommended an attorney, should I just go ahead and use that person?

In all likelihood, the attorney recommended will do a good job handling your closing.  Please keep in mind that pries vary among attorneys and just like everything else in the home-buying/refinancing process, you should shop around to make sure you are getting a price you are comfortable with.  Also, ask to speak to the attorney to make sure you are comfortable working with them.  You want to make sure they will help walk you through the process and will adequately answer any questions you may have regarding your loan documents.  This can be especially true for first time home-buyers, who are usually unfamiliar with the process.  You want to make sure that you truly understand the documents you are signing.

When will I know how much money I need to bring to closing?

Our office will prepare a settlement statement sheet (also called a HUD-1) which will identify the costs incurred in the loan and/or purchase.  Our office cannot fully prepare this document until we receive the package from your lender.  We may not receive this information until the day of closing.  We will contact you as soon as the information is available.  For cash purchases, this information should be available a few days before closing.

Can I write a personal check for the money I need to bring?

Our office requires that funds over two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) be sent to our office via wire transfer.  Wire instructions will be sent to you in our firm's initial disclosure to you.  If the dollar amount needed for closing is less than two thousand dollars ($2,000.00), a personal check is sufficient.  We realize that oftentimes you must go to the bank to order the wire transfer prior to knowing the exact dollar amount you need to bring to closing.  Please use the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) provided by your lender as the best estimate of closing costs.  If the amount estimated was not enough, a personal check is acceptable for the difference.  If you've wired too much money to our office, a check for the difference will be given to you at closing.

Who should I make the check out to?

Checks should be payable to the Law Office of Bayard Mairn.

What else do I need to bring to closing?

All parties should bring photo identification with them (Driver's license, passport, etc.).  In addition, some lenders require two forms of identification.  Therefore, buyers/borrowers should also bring with them their social security care, insurance information, or W-2.  If a pest inspection was performed, please bring the inspection report so that all parties can sign the document.  Please bring your personal checkbook to closing.  Oftentimes, there can be last minute changes to the settlement statement sheet.  It is a good idea to also bring any loan documents you've previously received from your lender and home inspection reports.  These documents are not required for closing but can be helpful in the event a question or concern arises during closing.  Also, it can be helpful if sellers bring any warranty or other information regarding the home to closing in case the new owners have any problems.

Does the buyer's attorney also represent the seller?

No.  The buyer's attorney is paid for and represents the buyer only.  The buyer's attorney may also help to resolve any issues during closing that arise between the parties.  The seller is not required to have their own attorney, but it is advisable.

What is title insurance?  Am I required to buy it?

Title insurance is an insurance designed to cover the lender and/or owner in the event that someone else claims an interest in your property.  For example, this can occur when a previous lien/mortgage goes unpaid, when the foreclosure process was not handled properly, or when a previous deed was signed inappropriately or not by all of the owners.  Unlike other types of insurance, title insurance is paid only when you purchase and/or refinance your home.  It is not an annual payment.  It will cover you for as long as you own your property and/or for as long as your lender holds a mortgage against the home.  Lenders title insurance is typically required to protect the lender in the event an issue arises.  Lender's coverage does not protect you.  Owner's coverage protects you and is optional, although highly recommended.  Owner's coverage typically is only slightly more expensive then lenders coverage.  Title insurance is designed to protect your investment.  Keep this in mind if you are purchasing a "fixer-upper", where you'll be investing a lot of your own money into the home.  It may be wise to select coverage in an amount greater than the purchase price, to cover not only the original cost of the property but also your additional investment.

Will I qualify for the first-time home-buyer exemption for transfer taxes?

The rules vary depending on where you purchase your home.  Homes in unincorporated New Castle County (those not within any city limits) qualify for the exemption if the buyer has not previously purchase a home.  Ever.  Anywhere.  And will be using the home as their primary residence within 90 days.  If multiple individuals are purchasing the home, all individuals must meet this requirement.  If the home is located within city limits for the City of Wilmington, the buyer(s) cannot have owned a home within the City of Wilmington for the last three years.  If multiple individuals are purchasing the home, all individuals must meet this requirement.  An exception does exist for the City of Wilmington for those displaced as a result of divorce or legal separation, in which case, the buyer would qualify if they have not owned real estate in the City of Wilmington within the previous year.  There is no exemption for properties located within the City of Newark, City of New Castle, Town of Elsmere, Town of Middletown, Town of Smyrna, or Town of Newport.

Click here to watch an explanation of home closing and the benefits of title insurance from Lifetime Television.

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521 West Street, Wilmington, DE 19801-2196           Phone: 302.658.4200       Fax: 302.658.9075              ©2008  www.bayardmarinlaw.com