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What Is an Attorney's Role in a Home Purchase?

Massachusetts plays by some different rules when it comes to buying and selling a home.

In most states, a real estate agent can handle all aspects of a home sale. In Massachusetts, things are a bit different.

According to, a Massachusetts real estate lawyer has a unique role when it comes to buying and selling real property in the state.

For starters, in many other states, the escrow company or the title company holds the money prior to closing. This isn't the case in Massachusetts, where "escrow companies" currently don't exist.

Let's explain the escrow process a little here: When buying a home, the buyer has to put down a deposit prior to closing. The initial deposit for the home is held in an escrow account. The escrow account is a type of third-party account, holding the money pending the sale.

In Massachusetts, however, it's not uncommon for a real estate attorney to hold the money on behalf of the client.

In Massachusetts, title companies aren't always the only resource used when confirming title to the property. Checking and recording title is a part of the real estate purchase and sale process.

Massachusetts' title recording system is different from many other states. While many states have adopted an indexing system based on addresses or parcels at the county recorder's office, Massachusetts still indexes properties using the names of the title holders.

As a result, the process of establishing legitimacy to the chain of title can sometimes be challenging. To establish legitimate title, one would have to go through the chain of title to check for liens on the property, as well as other encumbrances.

In Massachusetts, the lawyer often also conducts the closing. In many cases, the lender's attorney is also present at the closing.

If you're in the process of buying or selling a home, have a look at our related resources below for more information. Also, have a look at our directory of Boston real estate lawyers.

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