Saturday, October 13, 2007

query: lawyer didn't provide title commitment

Was the lawyer reviewing the title commitment on your behalf or was the lawyer the title agent issuing the title commitment?

If the lawyer was hired by you to review the work of the title agent, the lawyer might have thought his own review on your behalf was sufficient. A lawyer acting on your behalf is your fiduciary, hired to protect you. I would have preferred that the lawyer share a copy with you so you understood the property rights before you closed, but you hired the lawyer and the two of you should review your expectations of the agreed work relationship.

If the lawyer was the actual title agent issuing the title commitment, he had a duty to release a copy of the title commitment to you prior to closing. If the lawyer was the title agent AND your legal representative, he was performing under a conflict of interest. A lawyer can't or shouldn't serve more than one master. In this case the lawyer would be representing the title company and your interest would be secondary. This is a common problem. Doug Miller, a lawyer who blogs, discussed thid very issue. Here's a link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree completely. Lawyers have had their hands in the title end of things since the beginning of time. If you recall abstracts of title were orginally completed by attorney's and were nothing more than educated opinions. Atleast now attorneys, working as title agents, offer their clients actual insurance through major underwriters. The attorney that works as a title agent carries much of the liability so they (I feel) are more inclined to research the property and gauruntee to their client that the client is receiving a "clean title".

And it really depends on the state you are talking about. In Illinois we still use attorneys on the majorioty of real estate transactions. In order for the attorney to keep their legal fees reasonable they must work as title agents. Here they still charge about five to six hundred dollars to represent a seller (the same price that was charged in 1978).