For most people, buying a home is the largest and most significant purchase they’ll ever make. Whether you’re buying or selling, hiring a real estate attorney early in the process will protect you against the unexpected, and ensure a smooth and low-stress closing.
- A real estate lawyer will protect your rights and interests in the transaction…they are the only party truly “on your side.”
- A real estate lawyer has the experience and training to handle the unique issues regarding real property, and the problems most people can’t anticipate. They see a lot of contracts and know the local customs, and can help cut through roadblocks.
- Your attorney will review, amend and modify the brokerage contract during the attorney review period. Most “boilerplate” agreements don’t offer buyers and/or sellers the protection they deserve.
- Your lawyer will review the purchase agreement. Suppose there’s an illegal structure on the property, or termites, radon, lead paint, asbestos, or other potentially hazardous waste? Inspection contingencies need to be clearly defined. At this point in the process, if you back out of the deal, what happens to your deposit?
- Your attorney works with your mortgage loan officer, the other party’s attorney and agents to make sure that dates are set for attorney approval, home inspection, title search, mortgage commitment and other contingencies.
- Your attorney will also review important documents, including legal descriptions, mortgage loan documents, the property survey, and the title and the title insurance policy.
- Your attorney will review the deed, to ensure there are no errors in the legal description. Even simple mistakes – a name misspelled, for example – can create big title issues.
- Your attorney attends the closing, to ensure the process moves along efficiently and effectively. In the case of problems/issues, the attorney will counsel and represent you.
- Your attorney has no direct emotional involvement in the transaction, and no conflict of interest. You’ll appreciate a level-headed counselor by your side if the situation becomes difficult.
- You’ll receive something of great value: peace of mind!
- The best way to find a real estate lawyer is through word of mouth, in the best case from your real estate agent, a friend, or a family member. Most real estate agents are happy to refer someone with whom they have worked, and have a list of preferred attorneys.
Talk to two or three lawyers, and then choose one, before making any offer on a home. Ask a few simple questions:
What is their residential real estate experience — generally, more is better
What is their experience with closings for homes similar to yours, or even in the building you are considering
How much of the work will be done by the lawyer personally, and how much (and which parts) will be handled by a paralegal
Ask if the charge will be a flat fee or based on an hourly rate