Frequently Asked Questions

What type of legal work does your firm handle?

Stiles Law concentrates in residential and commercial real estate conveyancing and mortgage lending services.  We represent buyers, sellers, borrowers, banks, mortgage companies, investors, builders and developers in the course of their real estate transactions.  Additionally, Stiles Law has represented many small businesses during their startup, advising of the best legal structure to fit their needs.  Stiles Law also helps clients with their Estate Planning needs.

How long have you been in business?

Stiles Law was founded in 1996. Mark Stiles has provided legal services to thousands of clients in various fields for over twenty years.

I’m Selling my house, should I retain an attorney?

Yes. Real estate conveyancing is a highly technical field that requires expertise. During seller representation, an attorney will help to protect your interests in negotiation of the Purchase and Sale Agreement as well as making sure that all necessary documents are prepared, including the deed which conveys your interest in the property to the Buyer.  Doing it yourself represents false economy and opens the seller to potential, unnecessary liability. Further, as part of our services to each of our clients, we offer to attend the closing on their behalf under a written power of attorney. This saves our clients the hassle of attending and signing documents at closing.

I’m Buying a house, should I retain an attorney?

Yes.  For many of the same reasons a Seller should retain an attorney, conveying property is highly technical and requires expertise. In Massachusetts, real estate closings must be conducted by attorneys.  The bank will invariably hire its own attorney if the Buyer has not retained one. By retaining an attorney, the Buyer can actually save money by having the attorney both represent the buyer during the Purchase and Sale Agreement negotiation as well as represent the bank and Buyer at closing.

Are there special issues to keep in mind because I am buying a condominium unit?

A condominium unit requires consideration in addition to those applicable to buying a single family house. One unique attribute of owning a condominium unit is the fact that common spaces and structure are owned in common by each of the other unit owners. A condominium is created by a Master Deed which establishes the units and common area on the premises.  A trust is established which dictates how trustees are chosen and how the condominium’s affairs will be handled. Further, the trustees will establish bylaws which can restrict the unit owner’s use of their unit from issues ranging from which types of pets they can keep or the volume at which they can listen to music. Condominiums operate with a budget and require specialized insurance.  A review of these documents and information by an experienced attorney is critical to protecting a Buyer’s interests.

How much does it cost to draft…?

It depends.  While this is not a very satisfying answer, it accounts for every client’s unique situation.  While a client may ask us to draft a deed, they may in fact really need us to draft a deed, power of attorney, and trustee certificate. We tailor our competitive fees to each client’s individual circumstances rather than using a “cookie cutter” fee.

I am looking for someone to review my legal documents, can you help?

Sometimes a client simply needs help understanding the content of a legal document.  Stiles Law has the experience to provide comprehensive, understandable advice to their clients in various legal contexts and to explain benefits, risks, repercussions, and potential exposure in a clear and understandable way.

What is a Title Exam?

Real property has often been owned by many people, often dating back hundreds of years. A Title Exam seeks to determine whether there are any outstanding issues affecting the current owner’s title to the property.  Before real property is conveyed, a title examiner reviews the documents related to the property that are recorded at the Registry of Deeds to determine whether there is a clean “Chain of Title.”  One typical example of a title issue that is often encountered is a missing mortgage discharge.

What is Title Insurance?

An Owner’s Title Insurance Policy protects the purchaser of real property from title defects that arise after the purchase of property. It is purchased for a one-time premium at closing and offers protection for as long as the Buyer or her heirs have an interest in the property.  The insured is fully protected against losses, including the cost of legal defense, should a title issue arise that was not uncovered by the title exam. Most lenders require borrowers to purchase a “Lender’s Policy” which protects the lender against losses from title defects. A Lender’s Policy does not protect the borrower.

Why would I need Title Insurance if you’ve already examined title?

In Massachusetts, a title examination is customarily limited to a search of 50 years worth of records.  Title issues on record which are older than 50 years will not be discovered. Further, a title examination is limited to the documents that are part of the public record at the Registry of Deeds.  A Title Examiner makes no determination as to forgeries, the mental capacity of the document’s signor, the actual legal effectiveness of recorded documents, or the existence other unknown, missing documents.  Obtaining an owner’s policy is least expensive at the time of closing and is highly recommended as an important protection for the purchaser of real estate.

How long will the entire closing process take?

While each situation is unique, in general, the closing process takes anywhere from four to six weeks. After the Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed by all parties, the Buyer will likely seek financing, both parties will obtain all of the necessary documents for closing, and the closing attorney will conduct a Title Examination and all of the other due diligence required for closing. The parties to some transactions prefer an extended closing date, sometimes many months from the time of signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement. If the Buyer is paying for the property with cash, the closing process can sometimes be condensed to just a matter of weeks.

What do I need to do to prepare for Closing?

The best way to prepare for closing is to follow your attorney’s and real estate agent’s instructions.  Many of the documents necessary for closing will be prepared or obtained by your attorney.  As far as what to bring to closing, be sure to remember your photo identification as it is necessary for notarizing various documents and your checkbook to pay for any last minute adjustments to the Settlement Statement. For an in depth discussion of what to expect at a real estate closing, read our three part series The Closing.

How must I bring my funds to Closing?

Oftentimes, buyers will need to bring considerable sums to closing.  A buyer will not be granted access to the property until all funds are available to be transferred to the Seller. To guarantee that the funds are available at the time of closing, Buyers are required to bring a Certified Bank Check or send funds via bank wire. It is often the case that the amount due will change slightly at closing due to last minute adjustments.  Prudent buyers will bring personal checks to closing to pay for any additional small sums due at closing.

Does my spouse need to come to the Closing, and for that matter, do I?

With the exception of certain, very limited circumstances, the answer to this question is a strong YES. While you may be the only borrower, your spouse will be required to sign important documentation from the lender; for example, a federal Truth in Lending Disclosure Statement. Only with advanced permission, in very limited circumstances, will a lender allow a borrower to authorize an individual to sign on her behalf through a power of attorney.

How do I retain Stiles Law to represent me?

If you would like Stiles Law to represent you, simply email mstiles@stiles-law.com or call (781) 319-1900 and ask for Mark Stiles. Once you have contacted us, we will discuss your situation to determine exactly what your needs are. After this consultation, we will work diligently to accomplish your legal goals.