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Revised Real Estate Opinion Adopted

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The North Carolina State Bar Council adopted proposed revisions to the opinion concerning the involvement of corporations, title companies and other non-lawyers in real estate closings. Revised Authorized Practice Opinion 2002-1.  I previously wrote a blog on the proposed revisions to this opinion, which were published after the Bar’s October meeting.  One of the concerns that I raised in that prior blog was that the Bar’s revisions took an overly broad interpretation of its statues in stating that they prohibited anyone from arranging for the services of an attorney in real estate closings.  I believed this would disrupt business as usual for many real estate practices, including regular relationships with real estate and mortgage brokers.

In response to comments submitted about the proposed revisions, including from the NC Bar Association’s Real Property Section, the Bar added an additional sentence to the last footnote that at least partially addresses this concern.  The new sentence clarifies that title companies and others are not prohibited from referring parties to attorneys as long as they are not paid any fee for the referral and they do not require the use of a specific attorney.  While other issues remain with the revised opinion, this addition at least provides some clarification on this one important issue.  The revised opinion does not have to be approved by the Supreme Court and now is in effect.