Who does the Closing Attorney represent in a real estate transaction?
In a cash transaction in the state of Georgia (outright purchase of the property), the attorney generally represents the party that contacted them first to oversee the transaction. But this can be seen as a gray area as well, it's according to how the parties act in the transaction as to whose interest the attorney represents. Therefore, it is very important to establish who the attorney will represent in the transaction at the very beginning, so there is no confusion. There is a box of the GAR Purchase & Sale Agreement form (Page 2, Paragraph 7) that allows either the buyer or seller to be represented.
Borrower's almost always assume (mistakenly) that the closing attorney represents them during the real estate closing. It is totally understandable to think this, since the buyer generally is footing the bill for the title services.
Sometimes the seller thinks the attorney represents their interest in the transaction, since they offered to pay closing costs to the buyer. And it is true, generally the seller can stipulate who the closing attorney shall be simply because they are paying the cost for the attorney.
But if a lender is involved in the transaction (in the State of Georgia), the attorney represents the lender, and acts on the behalf of the lender throughout the whole transaction. It doesn't matter if it is a purchase or refinance transaction (see the GAR Purchase & Sale Agreement, Page 2, Paragraph 7)
Every so often, (rarely) you run into a closing attorney who is NOT on the lender's approved attorney list. If they are not approved (or blacklisted), you cannot close your loan with that attorney. You have to find an approved attorney. And the seller has to choose an approved closing attorney (or allow the buyer to select the attorney), or choose another buyer.
That's how you know who's interest the closing attorney represents...