REBA v. NREIS Ruling: Massachusetts Real Estate Attorneys Must Not Only Conduct Closings But Take “Substantive Participation” In Residential Transactions

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The long awaited ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in case of Real Estate Bar Association (REBA) v. National Estate Information Services (NREIS) has just come down. The net effect of the Court’s ruling is to reaffirm Massachusetts attorneys’ long-standing role to oversee the closing process and conduct closings.

This case pits Massachusetts real estate closing attorneys vs. out of state non-attorney settlement service providers which are attempting to perform “witness or notary” closings here in Massachusetts. At stake is the billion dollar Massachusetts real estate closing industry.

Quick Analysis

• Massachusetts attorneys must be present for closings and take active role in transaction both before and after the closing. The substantive ruling from the court was a huge victory for Massachusetts real estate closing attorneys and their continued, long standing involvement in the residential real estate industry. The court requires “not only the presence but the substantive participation of an attorney on behalf of the mortgage lender.” This is what Massachusetts real estate attorneys have been fighting about for consumers in the face of out of state settlement companies who have tried to conduct closings with “robo-attorneys” and notaries who cannot explain complex legal documents to parties at the closing table. The court stated:

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