Alleys are found mostly in the City of Atlanta and in older neighborhoods. In the 1980’s, the city of Atlanta decided that was too costly to maintain those alleys. They officially abandoned all alleyways, except for a few specific ones which have been historically maintained. This means that the other rights-of-way were still there, but no one maintained them. Each homeowner gained ownership of half of the alleyway, but subject to an easement right for each homeowner adjacentto the alleyway.

The alleyways can still be utilized, as long as they are in usable condition.  How long does it take for that pot hole to get fixed in front of your house?  If it’s in the alleyway, it’s never going to get fixed unless the owners do it themselves. 

Spring is right around the corner, which means it is home buying time! New real estate agents come into the market frequently with dreams of working just a few hours a week while earning $100K a year.  We all know that’s unrealistic.  It takes years to build up a client base, and clients only come back when they had a great experience the first time around.  

Delayed closings and extended wait times can really change how a client feels about their experience. Origin Title & Escrow doesn’t waste people’s time because we don’t overbook closings.  Our attorneys have the title information on hand at closing and can easily answer any questions that should arise.  

Buyers always remember the day they got the keys to their new home, ensure it’s a pleasant experience by using Origin Title & Escrow.  

Buying a home is, perhaps, the largest and most significant investment of your life. It also involves a unique set of property laws that can raise unexpected issues at closing. That’s why a buyer usually selects the attorney to handle the transaction.  

We have a client who is an investor that fixes up and sells old homes. He didn’t quite trust the seller’s closing attorney, so he brought Origin Title on to review the title.  As it turned out, the seller only got a deed from one heir while there were two more individuals with an interest in the property.  Even with title insurance, cleaning up the title would take valuable time and lower the value of the investment.  It’s not always about title insurance, but about seeing the potential problems before buying a property. 

A buyer’s attorney serves to make sure the buyer’s interests are protected. The buyer normally choses the closing attorney, especially in a cash-purchase where the closing attorney represents the buyer.  It is important for cash-purchasers and investors to have an attorney look at title and closing documents on their behalf before closing, even when the seller insists on using their closing attorney.  Origin Title and Escrow can help avoid drawn-out and expensive title issues for their clients. 

When you receive a small check for $2.00 or less in the mail, do you always deposit it?  Or do you throw it away?

Most closing attorneys have borrowers sign a statement at closing that allows the attorney to keep any overage for recording fees.  This could give an incentive to over-estimate recording costs. 

Origin Title and Escrow does NOT take any money that is not part of our fee.  If it’s listed as a recording fee on the closing statement and we don’t need it to record the deed, it’s returned to the borrower.  If the check never clears, the money then escheats to the state after 7 years.  Unfortunately, over the years, we have given the State of Georgia over $7,000 because borrowers have failed to deposit these small checks.

Hopefully this will soon come to an end because, going into effect January 1st, 2020, recording a document in the State of Georgia will cost a flat fee of $25. It really does matter who the closing attorney is, and borrowers can usually choose their own. Why give away even $10 when it’s not necessary? 

Things don’t often change with real estate recordings.  In fact, it’s been over 20 years since recording fees changed in Georgia.  But times are changing and Origin Title and Escrow is prepared before they happen.  

Currently, one- or two-page deeds cost $10 or $12, mortgages cost about $60 to record and liens are about $10 to file. However, during the 2019 Legislative session, House Bill 288 was passed which will provide flat recording fees in all counties in the State of Georgia.  Starting January 1st, 2020, recording any document in the real estate records will cost a flat $25, no matter how many pages.  The only exception is that the county will charge $25 for each release. If one affidavit or deed lists three documents to be released, then the recording fee is $75.  Avoid having your filings rejected because of the wrong filing fee. 

Wire fraud is a real – and growing – danger for individuals who are buying homes. In 2018, fraudulent wire transfers stole $423 million from US consumers.  The scammer’s favorite tactic involves sending an email to the buyer, telling them to use the new wiring instructions enclosed. Buyers often don’t think to verify the information, they just follow the instructions, and their money is gone.

In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission reported that the three top states for wire fraud were Florida, Georgia and Nevada. The real estate closing attorney will make sure their systems are protected and that funds are transferred to the correct accounts.  Additionally, the attorney should provide wiring instructions early in the closing process, not a day or two before the closing.  Smart buyers should be suspicious of any request to change wiring instructions. They should also verify the information by phone before proceeding.

In Georgia, people who buy homes together typically choose to declare joint tenancy with right of survivorship. This status guarantees that upon the death of one owner, their ownership interest immediate transfers to the survivor, without the need for probate.

In Florida, homeowners can choose to declare tenancy by the entirety. In this circumstance, the ownership interest cannot be separated. That matters if one spouse opens a credit card on their own, and amasses $50,000 in debt.  In Florida, a lien could not be filed against the house, because the debt did not apply to both spouses. In Georgia, a lien could attach to the property.

Loan officers who are licensed in Georgia and Florida will benefit from working with a closing attorney who is able to close loans in both states. 

 A home buyer can decide to undertake the purchase without the benefit of a real estate agent, but if they do, they take on the responsibility for understanding the local and federal regulations that will apply to their transaction. While everyone is most focused on the money that is changing hands, that’s just one of many steps that are legally required for the sale. 

An overconfident buyer may wrongly assume that all the forms they find on the internet are correct, and they may never realize there can be local requirements on the property that have to be met before a sale can occur. For example, in DeKalb County in metro Atlanta, all toilets in the home must be certified as low-flow before the new owner can get water service. Without the awareness of this requirement, a new homeowner might be faced with replacing every toilet in the home – and then getting the certificate of compliance – before the county will turn the water on. 

While it is possible to buy a house without a real estate agent, a closing attorney is required to make sure the transaction follows all the legal requirements of a sale. 

We don’t recommend it, but it is possible to buy and sell a house without a real estate agent. 

Even without an agent, a closing attorney is required to complete the sale. The closing attorney will draft and review the sales contract and make sure the transfer of ownership is handled correctly.  

Often a person who has been renting a home will decide to buy it, and they may choose to complete the purchase without a real estate agent. Their first stop should be with a closing attorney.  The attorney will review the title, prepare closing documents, hold the funds for closing, and make all the required payoffs. 

No matter how easy the videos make it sound to buy or sell a house without an agent, smart consumers will be sure to get a closing attorney who will look out for their interests in the transaction.

In 2019, the Georgia Association of Realtors took steps to make sure that all Homeowner Association fees are fully disclosed to the buyer. The contract states that any HOA fee that isn’t disclosed properly will be paid by the seller. This keeps the buyer from being surprised at closing with unexpected fees.

HOA management companies have many fees in many names:  move-in fee, move-out fee, capital contribution, initiation fees, administrative fees, to name just a few.

No matter how complex the fee structure is from the Homeowner Association, it is the seller’s responsibility to accurately disclose the fees on the contract.

Real estate agents who have been surprised by unexpected fees enjoy working with closing attorneys who do not have hidden fees and who will work to be sure their clients don’t wind up owning extra money at closing.