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I'm refinancing my mortgage with a well-known lender. I assume the lender's attorney will review the closing documents. I know the documents are pretty standard, but still wondering if I need to hire my own lawyer too.

If you have refinanced your mortgage, did you hire your own own lawyer to review the closing documents?

If yes, how much did your lawyer charge? Was your lawyer present at the closing, or did he/she review the documents with you some time prior to closing?

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    Can you clarify: what state, how is title held presently, and are you making any changes to how title is held as part of the transaction (e.g., husband and wife as community property with right of survivorship deeding into inter vivos living trust with husband and wife as guarantors and trustees, LLC but you're buying out a partner, divorce and you are buying out ex-spouse). If this is a vanilla refi with no title changes and you have a big lender then probably overkill to bring in your attorney.
    – C8H10N4O2
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 18:16
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    This for the most part varies by state - please specify.
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 22:08
  • North Carolina, USA. Vanilla refi. Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 2:46

3 Answers 3

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I've never used an attorney for a mortgage refinance before, and never wished I had either. There really isn't much more to a refinance of a mortgage than any other type of refinance (e.g. car, student, credit cards, etc). One bank gives you money (probably at a lower interest rate), and you pay off the other loan with that money. Typically there is a title company that handles all the checks and makes sure everything is up to snuff. I'm sure you could pay an attorney to look over the documents, and even represent you at closing if you wish, but I've never found it necessary. As long as you confirm the interest rate, the term, and the fees beforehand, there isn't much else that would require legal representation. One scenario where it makes sense to have an attorney is when you won't be present and you want them to sign on your behalf (called power of attorney).

Note the original purchase of real estate is typically far more complicated, and I would definitely encourage having an attorney in that case.

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  • Just as you say, you may (for whatever reason) want to do this using a power of attorney, so that, you won't be there. That would be pretty unusual for refinancing, though.
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 13:19
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    How are you answering this question without knowing where they live?
    – blankip
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 21:36
  • @blankip good point, I shouldn't have necessarily assumed it was US, but it looks like the question was updated to say US about 10 minutes after I answered it, so lucky guess on my part. I doubt anyone in the US would need an attorney for a refi (regardless of state).
    – TTT
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 16:44
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No, you don't need a lawyer. I've done several purchases & refinances over the years, and have never used a lawyer. Indeed, I've never even heard of anyone using a lawyer for a normal residential real estate transaction.

Note per comments: this applies to 49 US states, not Louisiana, where the system might well be different (I have no personal knowledge), and not to other countries.

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    "I've never even heard of anyone using a lawyer for a normal residential real estate transaction." Using a real estate lawyers in Louisiana is very common. Apparently also where @TTT lives.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 3:53
  • It's not common where I live, because real estate transactions and annuity loans are both heavily regulated in favor of the consumer. But there might be considerable regional differences in these laws. When you are in a more neo-liberal state, then there might be more need to hire your own attorney.
    – Philipp
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 12:54
  • Every single time I've ever bought or sold a house (in numerous countries/states/continents) I have used a solicitor. Indeed, the same is true for every single time anyone I know has done so. (I don't mean for refinancing, but any "a normal residential real estate transaction" such as buying/selling.)
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 13:20
  • I don't know about refinancing, but it's common for your real estate agent to guide you through a regular purchase and help understand the documents. I've used an attorney in TX instead of an agent for buying and building a house when I found the empty property myself and did not use an agent. Saved us money on the fees (flat $1500 for the lawyer) and kept things simpler, though it wasn't required to have anyone there on our side.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 16:01
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    @ Fattie: The OP specifically tagged the question as being IN THE UNITED STATES. Yes, in other countries, e.g. Britain, using a solicitor seems to be the norm, but in the US, a "solicitor" is more likely to be thought of as one of those ladies (and sometimes gents) of negotiable virtue that are reputedly found in certain parts of cities. As for Louisiana, it has a much different legal/property system (inherited from the French) than the rest of the country.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 16:57
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The only time I could think it might be vaguely worthwhile hiring an attorney would be if your current lender has a significant Early Repayment Charge on your current mortgage, or if you are unsure how much your current bank will charge you to leave.

Often there isn't any charge at all if you've held the mortgage for a while and are outside of any initial fixed rate period, but if you're still inside the Early Repayment Charge period and aren't sure how much it's going to cost you, make sure to find out first.

If your bank is charging unreasonable interest rates and you're trapped by a similarly unreasonable Early Repayment Charge, then you may need an attorney.

But in all other cases as long as you understand the numbers - including any fixed costs of moving from one provider to another, I see no reason you'd need an attorney.

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