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Getting Professional Help with the Home Closing Process: An Interview with Richard Delonis of Szura & Delonis PLC

By Richard Delonis

Tell us a little bit about your experience, firm's history, and the areas of law that you practice.

I have been practicing law for a little over 20 years. My law partner and I both have experience working at large law firms in Detroit, and we founded our firm, Szura & Delonis PLC, in 1996. We really appreciate the smaller law firm environment and the flexibility that it affords, as well as the relationships that we build and foster with our clients. We concentrate our practice on business law, construction, and real estate law (including condominium law). We handle transactions and litigation. By narrowly focusing our practice, we have gained greater in depth experience which enables us to better serve our clients.

What's the role of an attorney in home closings in Michigan?

The role of an attorney really should begin at or before the purchase agreement stage. It is important to have an attorney assist you, whether you are the buyer or the seller, with the terms and conditions of the purchase agreement. If a problem comes up at or after the closing, an attorney may be limited in what he or she can do to resolve it in your favor, because your rights may primarily be dependent upon what the purchase agreement says. If that document is written so that it heavily favors the other party, then you may have a real problem.

Whether you are buying or selling, it is not the time to try to go it alone to save a few dollars on legal fees. Many attorneys should be able to quote you a flat fee for assisting with the entire process, so that you know from the start exactly what you will be paying. The attorney is there to protect your interests and is an important part of the process, because the relatively modest amount you pay up front for the service may really save you from paying substantial dollars down the road.

In my practice, I have been involved in several matters over the years where, if an attorney had been involved at the outset, the issues or problems that arose would have very likely been avoided. If a matter ends up in litigation, the fees and costs involved will be far more than what it would have cost to have an attorney working with you and guiding you from the beginning.

The closing is predominantly a signing ceremony, and involves the collection and distribution of the sales proceeds by the closing agent (usually a title agency). An attorney can be present at the closing to address any issues that arise, but if that attorney has been involved from the very beginning and has reviewed the closing documents in advance, the closing process itself should be smooth and relatively quick.

What are the basic steps involved in the home closing process?

After the purchase agreement is negotiated and signed, there typically is a period of time in which the buyer has the right to physically inspect the home and have someone examine the title history. Also, the deal may be contingent upon the buyer obtaining a mortgage loan and then he or she will have a period of time to either obtain the loan or back out of the deal. If the loan is successfully obtained, and nothing objectionable was found during the inspection of the home or the review of the title, the transaction proceeds to closing.

What are the key points about buying or selling a home in Michigan that people should be knowledgeable about?

For a buyer, make sure that you obtain a seller's disclosure statement and ask questions about any problems, such as past water leaks, that are disclosed. Get a reputable inspector to conduct an inspection of the home and if there are any repairs that need to be made, notify the seller right away. Prior to closing, verify that those repairs were, in fact, made.

If you are buying a condominium, it is vital that you obtain a copy of the condominium documents well before the closing and have them reviewed by an attorney that has experience with condominiums. A knowledgeable real estate lawyer who has experience with condominiums will know precisely what to look for in the documents and alert you to any issues and explain to you what your responsibilities will be as a co-owner in the condominium. We have a lot of experience in that area and have assisted numerous buyers and sellers of condominiums.

What are one or two things that the seller can do to help make the home closing process easier?

Be responsive to any questions or document requests from the buyer, real estate agent, or title agency that may come up. Delays in communicating information that is needed will only prolong the process and make it more difficult. Also, promptly make any agreed upon repairs to the property so that they are completed by the closing. Finally, be sure to remember to bring the keys, garage door openers, and other similar items that may need to be turned over to the buyer at the closing table.

What are one or two things that the buyer can do to help make the home closing process easier?

Have an attorney review the closing documents in advance of the closing. He or she can get any problems with the documents corrected prior to the closing and that will help ensure that it goes smoothly. The attorney can explain what the various documents are that you will be signing and you feel more at ease at the closing table knowing that an attorney has reviewed everything and you know what it is that you are signing. Also, for any money that you need to pay at the closing, make sure you verify the amount the day before so that the check you bring is for the correct amount.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your firm?

I can be reached by e-mail: rdelonis@szuradelonis.com or by telephone: (734) 386-0270.

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About The Author

Mr. Delonis is a member of the Business Law, Litigation, Real Estate Law, and Arts,...

Phone: 734-386-0270

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