Who closed your real estate transaction 3, 5, 7, or 10 years ago? My guess is you do not remember without making a call to your Realtor or trying to track down your prior deed. More often than not the very documents that you wanted “hard copies” of at closing were filed away in your home den, under your bed, in your closet, or in a large file bin in the attic are now lost, illegible, faded, stained, or damaged. Many times when you go to sell your home the buyers and real estate attorneys request copies of those very documents (Owners title policies, surveys, building plans, etc.) to assist them with resolving title issues, reviewing survey matters, understanding square footage discrepancies, or providing a reissue credit at closing.
The good news is real estate attorneys (and title agencies) are required either by Best Practices and/or statute to retain certain closing documents for up to 7 years. Most reputable real estate attorneys do not keep paper copies any longer however they do scan the closing documents into a secure file management software that is cloud-based. In other words, your client’s documentation can be securely accessed by the attorney at anytime and anywhere a computer and internet connection is accessible.
Generally, a simple call to your attorney will provide you with the closing documentation that you need assuming you are within 7 years from the date of closing. After 7 years it is well known (not really) within many legal circles that “purge parties” are thrown to properly shred, destroy, or just delete those unnecessary space taking documents. However, there are times where 7 years is not long enough or the method in which your attorney maintained your records was just as good as your teenage son keeping them under his bed. So how do you protect yourself?
- Find out how your real estate attorney will maintain your records – In a secure cloud-based location or in a file in the back office?
- Ask how long your attorney or title agent will maintain your records and whether they have a written Best Practice Policy that addresses this issue.
- Request that your closing documents be sent to you securely (via email) in lieu of a hard copy at closing that way you always have access to your documents (even beyond 7 years) and save a tree.
There are many instances that we have experienced over the years in which maintaining closing documents beyond 7 years would have assisted a Seller in curing title or survey related matters. Maintaining your own records in your personal secure cloud-based file management system preserves that documentation until you decide you want to hit the delete button and have your own “purge party”. As always, should you have any questions about closing document retention, we encourage you to speak with a reputable real estate attorney.
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Jamie A. Ebling, Esq., firstname.lastname@example.org
This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.
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