FAQs

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Why can’t I pay with a check or money order?

In South Carolina, closing attorneys cannot accept funds for closing in any other form than a wire transfer or cashier’s check. Please note that an ACH is not a wire transfer.

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What is Title Insurance and why do I need it?

Title insurance is an insurance policy protecting your ownership rights to your property. It is a one-time payment made at the time of closing and the policy protects you from financial loss should your ownership rights be compromised. The policy also covers the legal fees to defend your title in court.

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Why is my loan payoff more than the amount listed on my most recent loan statement?

Mortgages are paid in arrears, which means your monthly statement reflects the payments made for the previous month. Your payoff amount will include the principal balance shown on your loan statement plus any interest accrued during the month in which closing occurs. We also account for an additional 2 business days’ of interest after closing to provide your lender processing time and ensure no additional interest is owed after closing. Any additional interest not owed, will be returned to you by the lender.

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I have an escrow account with my lender. What happens with the money in escrow after my loan is paid off?

The money in your escrow account is yours! Once your lender receives and processes the payoff, your lender will send you a check for the amount currently in your escrow account. Some lenders will deduct the escrow from your payoff.

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How long will my closing take?

We know how time consuming moving can be and we strive to make the closing process as quick and enjoyable as possible. While no two closings are alike, most closings at our firm take an hour or less.

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What if my driver’s license is lost or expired and I don’t have a passport?

Closing attorneys are required to verify the identity of borrowers and sellers, which requires the provision of a government issued photo ID. If your license is lost or expired, you will need to contact the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles immediately to obtain a new or updated license.

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I am going to be out of the country at the time of closing. What do I do?

Lenders generally require that all parties be present at the time of closing. However, we understand that the unexpected can occur. If you will not be able to come to closing, please notify us immediately so that we can help find a solution and prevent any possible delays.

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How and when should I file for my 4% real estate tax rate?

South Carolina Code of Laws SECTION 12-43-220

(c)(1) The legal residence and not more than five acres contiguous thereto, when owned totally or in part in fee or by life estate and occupied by the owner of the interest, and additional dwellings located on the same property and occupied by immediate family members of the owner of the interest, are taxed on an assessment equal to four percent of the fair market value of the property. If residential real property is held in trust and the income beneficiary of the trust occupies the property as a residence, then the assessment ratio allowed by this item applies if the trustee certifies to the assessor that the property is occupied as a residence by the income beneficiary of the trust. When the legal residence is located on leased or rented property and the residence is owned and occupied by the owner of a residence on leased property, even though at the end of the lease period the lessor becomes the owner of the residence, the assessment for the residence is at the same ratio as provided in this item. If the lessee of property upon which he has located his legal residence is liable for taxes on the leased property, then the property upon which he is liable for taxes, not to exceed five acres contiguous to his legal residence, must be assessed at the same ratio provided in this item. If this property has located on it any rented mobile homes or residences which are rented or any business for profit, this four percent value does not apply to those businesses or rental properties. However, if the person claiming the four percent assessment ratio resides in the mobile home or single family residence and only rents a portion of the mobile home or single family residence to another individual as a residence, the foregoing provision does not apply and the four percent assessment ratio must be applied to the entire mobile home or single family residence. For purposes of the assessment ratio allowed pursuant to this item, a residence does not qualify as a legal residence unless the residence is determined to be the domicile of the owner-applicant.
(2)(i) To qualify for the special property tax assessment ratio allowed by this item, the owner-occupant must have actually owned and occupied the residence as his legal residence and been domiciled at that address for some period during the applicable tax year. A residence which has been qualified as a legal residence for any part of the year is entitled to the four percent assessment ratio provided in this item for the entire year, for the exemption from property taxes levied for school operations pursuant to Section 12-37-251 for the entire year, and for the homestead exemption under Section 12-37-250, if otherwise eligible, for the entire year.

(ii) This item does not apply unless the owner of the property or the owner’s agent applies for the four percent assessment ratio before the first penalty date for the payment of taxes for the tax year for which the owner first claims eligibility for this assessment ratio. In the application the owner or his agent shall provide all information required in the application.

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What is a survey and should I get one?

A survey is a certified map of your property from a licensed surveyor. The survey will provide the boundaries of your property, the exact location of the home and any improvements on the property, and the existence and location of any easements. We highly recommend that if you are purchasing a home, you obtain a survey, since it is the only accurate way to know exactly what it is you are purchasing.

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What do I do if I think I have been the victim of wire fraud?

If you think you have been the victim of wire fraud, you will want to act fast. First, call your bank. Second, file a complaint on www.ic3.gov. This will escalate response time. Third, call your local FBI office.

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Why do I need an attorney for my closing?

South Carolina considers the conducting of a real estate closing the practice of law, which only an attorney can do. State v. Buyers Service Co., 357 S.E.2d 15 (S.C. 1986.) In South Carolina, any reputable mortgage lender will require that an attorney be selected to conduct the closing. Also, South Carolina real estate law is quite complex and you need an attorney to examine the title records for prior conveyances, liens, encumbrances, and errors in the deeds in the chain of title. Your attorney then negotiates with the title insurance company for insurance coverage insuring your title against adverse claims of ownership, liens, and easements. Unlike other states, the closing attorney in South Carolina is a totally separate party from the title insurance company. The actual 45 minute closing, where the closing documents are signed, represents only about one- fifth to one-tenth of the services your attorney is providing you for your real estate transaction. The use of a closing agent rather than an attorney to close your loan is not only dangerous to you, but it is illegal, even if the transaction is “only” a refinance. In re Lester, 578 S.E.2d 7 (S.C. 2003.) Demand to use your own attorney.

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Can I, as the buyer, select the attorney of my choice for my closing?

Yes, you can. If you are buying the property or refinancing your loan, you are paying the closing attorney. Don’t let any involved party tell you that you must use a certain attorney for your closing — remember, the closing is for YOU, not for someone else who won’t be living in your house or paying your mortgage. Choose a lawyer who will represent YOU — not one who is trying to make someone else happy.

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When I recently refinanced my loan, the lender steered me towards an attorney I did not know, saying that this attorney was qualified to close the loan for me and approved with them. There’s nothing I can do about it now, right?

Wrong. According to the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code, the borrower selects his or her closing attorney and the lender must abide by that preference, so long as that attorney is qualified.

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I am married, but the house I am selling is in my name only. Does my spouse have to come to the closing?

No, your spouse will not need to sign the deed. While spouses have potential property rights in any real property their spouse owns, South Carolina abolished dower laws in the 1980s. Absent a Court Order establishing a spouses interest in real property, the owner of record on your deed is the only signatory necessary.

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I am married, but the house I am buying will be in my name only, and my spouse will not be a co-borrower. Does my spouse have to come to the closing?

No. This situation is really the same as the one in the question just above. Your spouse does not need to participate in the buying of the house, and he or she need not sign the mortgage. When you get a mortgage loan, you convey to your lender a property interest in your house, and your spouse’s potential property rights would be subject to the mortgage. If your spouse is on the deed, they must be at closing to sign the mortgage and other lender documents.

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I have given my spouse a Power of Attorney. Can he/she sign for me at the closing so I won’t have to attend?

Possibly. You need to inform your lender and the closing attorney that you want to do this, because the attorney will need to see the Power of Attorney beforehand to see if it is valid for a real estate closing. Also, the attorney will need time to prepare additional documents in this situation, and the original Power of Attorney will have to be recorded. If you are a borrower on the mortgage, your lender also has to approve your non-attendance at the closing through the Power of Attorney; many lenders will require you to attend anyway. (If you want the loan).

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When can I, the seller, get my money from the closing?

In South Carolina, the closing attorney is allowed to disburse any funds, including the seller’s proceeds and the realtor’s commission, at closing, so long as the Purchaser has brought “certified” funds, such as an official bank check, certified check, cashier’s check, or money order (or wire transfer, or even cash). The attorney is then responsible for having all documents recorded in the County Register of Deeds office. This means that you will get your proceeds check at the closing table, if all the documents and monies are in the attorney’s possession, and there are no outstanding escrow items. However, if you are simply refinancing your mortgage, your loan will not disburse until three (3) business days following the date you sign the closing documents.

Phone:
864-370-9040

Fax:
864-370-1281

Email:
terry@lawsandlaws.com
courtnay@lawsandlaws.com

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday
9:00am-5:00pm