The job of a closing attorney or title company is basically to execute or “close” your transaction. Prior to closing the transaction, they take a look at the title and search it, usually going back 50 years or so, to make sure there are no liens or clouds on titles.
If you are buying a house, they ensure that you are not going to have to clean up somebody else’s garbage because there is a tax lien to be satisfied, or because the original owners didn’t pay off the builders.
Your transaction will either go to a title attorney or a closing attorney. Some states require closing attorneys and others require what they call title companies, but they all basically do the same thing — they verify your taxes and the title on the property, and make sure that there are no liens or encumbrances so that you leave the closing table with a clean title and “clean” ownership.
The closing attorney’s job is also to protect the lender and ensure that the lender is on first lien position and, if there is a second mortgage, to make sure that the second lien position is solely held by the second lien provider.
They also execute payoffs, explain the documents and disclosures, show you how to execute the documents, make sure that you fully understand them, and have the funds for the transaction wired into and out of their escrow account. If they are paying off old lenders in a refinance or a purchase transaction, they will make sure that the new lender does not have any liens or encumbrances and that they are getting the title free and clear.
They also make sure that the customer who is buying a new property or refinancing does not have any liens or clouds on the title that haven’t been taken care of on past transactions.