Personal Story

Many people do not hire an attorney to assist them with their closing nor do they recognize the benefit of choosing a law firm as the title company. However, I learned the hard way and realized too late that I should have had an attorney on my side.
Here is my story so you can learn from my own personal experience. It was the purchase of my second home and my husband and I were on top of everything; very involved in the purchase. The home we were purchasing was a beautiful country home on 2.5 acres. To gain access to our home, you turn off a paved street onto a long dirt road. It was a typical country home that was fairly secluded and only had two other houses along the dirt road before you reached ours.
Nothing was alarming to us. The inspection came back ordinary, despite a few minor things. The survey was descriptive and did not raise any concerns. My husband and I were getting very anxious and ready to move in! The day we arrived at the title company to close on our new home, I can recall signing tons of documents. They were overwhelming and I felt pressured. There was no way I could read everything nor did I understand everything that I was signing. My husband and I were just excited to get the keys! I did not comprehend what a title policy covered or what a lender’s policy was, but I put my trust in the parties to advise me if needed.
A few months passed and we were truly enjoying our new home. However, the long dirt road we traveled to get to the house started to form major potholes. As each day passed, the potholes became worse and worse. My husband and I called the county to see if they would fill in the potholes or pave the road. However, the count informed us, for the first time, it was a private road and that they were not responsible for its maintenance. We were shocked!
We had no choice but to start maintaining the long dirt road. We began by buying rocks and dirt in order to fill the potholes. It was never ending and time-consuming. We were continuously re-filling the potholes trying to smooth out the dirt road. This continued for months and months. Paving the road was no where in our budget and quite honestly, neither was buying rocks and fill.
After we finally had enough, I contacted a real estate attorney. She asked me for my closing documents and my title policy. The funny thing is, I had my closing documents and never received my title policy after the closing. I had to call the title company and ask them to send it to me. The attorney looked at my documents and my policy. She showed me that the dirt road was listed on my policy; it had a list of exceptions that were not covered by the policy and the dirt road was one of them.
Unfortunately, the policy stated it would not cover an agreement that was recorded in a certain book and page in public records. My attorney pulled that document up and she showed me a contract between adjoining neighbors and the first homeowners (which passed to us), that stated all the neighbors shared the responsibility of maintaining the dirt road. If I would have hired an attorney to assist with my closing or a law firm to conduct the title closing, this would have been carefully reviewed with me, and my husband and I would have known what we were purchasing.
Now that we know, we have asked the neighbors for their contribution and, at least, we are not carrying the road burden ourselves. What we learned, however, is that title work is not easy to understand. You need someone who is experienced so you clearly understand what you are buying, and someone who knows the law. We also learned that not all attorneys charge attorney fees at closing. They charge the same price as a title agent, but you get the benefit of an attorney assisting you.
Don’t take the chance because you never know what issues might arise. You need representation and help from a real estate firm. Let them conduct your title closing, so you are fully aware of all the documents you are signing and you don’t get any surprises!
E.J. and B.V.

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