Ellsworth, Maine



Whether it is your first home, a refinancing project, raw land for investment or that special summer getaway that you've always dreamed of, buying property can be both exciting and intimidating. At Whalley Law Offices, our job is to emphasize the former and eliminate the latter.

We represent both Buyers and Sellers, from drafting a Purchase and Sale Contract through obtaining your final Title Insurance Policy. Due to predictability of these transactions and our considerable experience, we routinely quote a flat fee for our services. There should be no mystery about fees for many services an attorney provides. It is always right (and appropriate) to ask for estimates in writing and an attorney should expect to provide one. Please remember that, as with most things, there is always the exception. Should your transaction prove unique, our quoted fee may vary from this schedule. These flat fees apply to the more typical closing, to wit: residential or undeveloped property abutting a public road with a purchase price of $200,000.00 or less. We also conduct sales of commercial properties and businesses. Please call or e-mail to discuss these matters with us in greater detail. Our flat fees for the more typical closing are as follows:

- Seller representation: Typically $300.00, plus costs (depending on the complexity of the matter)

- Buyer representation: Typically $300.00, plus costs (again, depending on complexity of the transaction)

For a detailed discussion of typical costs, see below)

- Serving as Closing Agent: Typically $250.00, plus costs (you guessed it! It depends on the complexity of your particular matter)

Our services concerning more complex and unusual matters such as Litigation, Quiet Title actions, Partitions, Boundary Disputes, etc., can vary widely depending on your unique circumstances. These matters would be governed by our standard hourly rates. As with all matters, we will do our best to estimate your costs and always execute a written fee agreement. Please call or e-mail us for further details.

Many times, a Buyer allows a financial institution to select their attorney. While Hancock County is fortunate to have a number of qualified real estate attorneys, the level of service you receive can vary widely. We are often requested to provide Buyer representation by area banks (if the Buyer has no preference). In these situations, the closing will take place and we may never see our client. While there is nothing improper about this course of events, remember that the attorney represents you, not the bank. Accordingly, you have the absolute right to request a specific attorney and should expect that attorney to be available to answer all your questions and help you through your purchase. For most of us, buying a home is the largest, most important transaction we will ever undertake. An attorney's experience in these matters can (and should) help you avoid common pitfalls. Your purchase can even become an enjoyable experience. We certainly enjoy meeting our clients and helping them through the entire process.


Representing a Seller is a fairly straightforward matter. Often, the Purchase & Sale Contract is drafted by a Broker and already signed by the parties before we are retained. We strongly recommend that, once you decide to sell your property, you take a few minutes and meet with us first. Again, this ounce of prevention can avoid those common pitfalls and result in a clear, fair contract for all and smooth sailing through your closing. The most common variables faced in Seller representations are:

- Clouds on title: These can be any number of problems. Most commonly, you will find tax liens, inheritance problems (unaccounted for heirs, etc.), or unclear boundaries. It is the Seller's obligation to provide clear title to the Buyer. If the Buyer's title examination reveals any clouds on clear title, then it is our job to get them cleared for you. Our hourly rates govern such endeavors. As always, we will do our best to estimate such costs and fully explain the circumstances surrounding your transaction. Remember, no two clients, or their matters, are exactly alike!

- Complexity of transaction: While most Seller representations are predictable, some involve more complicated deeds and descriptions, a larger than usual number of Sellers and similar logistical problems. These variables are readily determinable and are reflected in the flat fee ($300). In other words, unless you have unusual circumstances our fee for services will not exceed $300.00 (plus costs). Costs for both Seller and Buyer are discussed below.


Representing a Buyer involves substantially more effort for the attorney than Seller representation. First, we must conduct a title examination and certify that the Seller holds clear and proper title to the property so you know what you are buying. Next, we obtain title insurance for you (this is required by financial institutions, but is always sound practice). Title insurance protects you from a large number of risks that even the most thorough title inspection cannot detect. These include boundary disputes, unrecorded conveyances (often called "wild deeds," as they are never recorded in the County Registry of Deeds) and similar matters that simply cannot be determined by examination of the records at the local Registry of Deeds. One of the most significant costs we incur is associated with researching and certifying title to the subject property. The research effort at the Registry of Deeds requires a high degree of specialized skill and can take many hours or days. By utilizing an independent contractor Title Abstractor (or researcher), we ensure both low cost to our client (by avoiding extensive attorney time) and a high quality result.

Once we ensure that title to your new purchase is sound and obtain your title insurance, we also approve the proposed deed and transfer documents from the Seller's attorney and prepare the mortgage instrument for your financial institution. When all is in good order, we forward the package to your bank for the long-awaited closing. Finally, after closing, we record your deed, update your title and obtain your final title insurance policy. This phase can take several weeks after you actually close the purchase.


We often conduct closings at our offices for those Buyers who either use private financing or pay cash. These closings can be done in the traditional manner (with all parties attending) or in escrow (we gather all funds, deeds and required documents, hold in escrow and close when all is in order).

Serving as Closing Agent involves a great deal more effort than simply certifying title to your bank. We prepare Closing Statements in advance for review by all parties, gather all required funds in escrow, disburse all monies as required, ensure all closing documents are prepared and duly executed and ensure all necessary filings are completed (such as Income Withholdings, Form 1099s, etc.). Once again, depending on the complexity of your particular matter, our quoted fee may vary, but typically, not over $300.00.


REMEMBER! No two closings are alike! Do you think we've said that enough!? Still, most closings will follow a normal course of events with fairly predictable expenses. The following schedule represents estimated closing costs for the typical residential closing (as defined earlier):

Our flat fee $300.00 $300.00
Title Abstractor $350.00 N/A
Maine Transfer Tax
(required by statute)
$2.20 per $1,000 of sale price $2.20 per $1,000 of sale price
Title Insurance Premium (1-time) $3.50-$4.00 per $1,000 of sale price N/A
Real Estate Brokers’ Commissions N/A 6% to 7% (10% for raw land)
Registry of Deeds recording fees
& miscellaneous costs
($16.00 for first page, $2.00 per page thereafter)
($16.00 for first page, $2.00 per page thereafter)
Your bank's financing charges Varies (ask first & shop around!) N/A


We hope this discussion helps you in your search for a real estate attorney. Remember, every attorney-client relationship is unique. It should also be a positive experience. Whether the issues are cost or manner of representation, take your time to find the right attorney and, most of all, ask the hard questions. It is amazing how cavalierly some clients enter into an attorney-client relationship. People who will spend weeks researching a new car or television purchase will plunge into an attorney-client relationship without a thought. An informed, educated client is an attorney's greatest asset. Make sure you are one!

Please also remember how unique every circumstance is. We have tried to inform you in these few pages (and we hope we haven't bored you!). What we HAVEN'T tried to do is render legal advice. Nothing in this web site is intended to constitute legal advice. Please call or E-mail with specific questions. We look forward to working with you on your next real estate venture.

Do you have questions we can answer for you? Email us! info@whalleylaw.com

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