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Do I Need a Real Estate Attorney?

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Just like hiring a real estate agent for the sale, you might also consider hiring a real estate attorney who can look after the legal processes.  Have you decided to buy your home? Or are you planning to buy it? Or maybe you’re thinking of investing in the real estate market? It is not only a big decision to invest in real estate, but also one of the most expensive investments you will ever make. And the process can be a bit complicated.

When we talk about real estate, there are a lot of associated laws which most people are not acquainted with. 

What is a real estate attorney? 

Real estate attorneys are the ones who are specialized in legal matters related to real estate. They apply these skills to matters related to properties to solve everyday transactions or disputes related to real estate.

Although you may not need them for every transaction, having someone experienced by your side can help you avoid any unwanted legal problems that can delay the process and save you money in the process.

Role of an attorney in real estate transactions:

Investing in a real estate is one of the most important decisions that can occur in one’s lifetime. And thus it becomes important to not overstate such an investment. 

From the day you decide of buying the home to the day you become a legal owner, you will come across several decisions which have got a legal consequence. Here are some of the ways how your attorney can help you in your deal:

The contract:

The contract is a legal document bound between the buyer and the seller.

The contract or purchase offer is the most important document in any real estate deal as it contains all of the terms involved in your purchase which includes, the purchase price, description of the property, how it is to be paid and any other conditions related to your purchase.

You should carefully go through all the terms and conditions before signing it and in case of any doubts, it is important to consult with your attorney. 

Title search:

If you are planning to get a loan for the deal, your lender will require that an attorney examines the records of the land before closing. 

Even if you are not applying for a loan, you need to get the records checked from the attorney to make sure that you are making the right deal and the property is clear from:

  • Claim from others.
  • Judgments
  • Any outstanding deeds or mortgages.
  • Unpaid taxes
  • Or any other related defects.

Title insurance

Title insurance protects you against any inherent defects in real estate titles which may not be apparent from a title search. The defects may include:

  • Forged deeds
  • Missing heirs
  • Clerical errors etc.

Your attorney will help you apply for the title insurance.

Closing:

Your attorney will help you with the closing process. They will help you prepare all the necessary documents, schedule the closing and explain all the necessary closing documents and make sure that they are properly executed and recorded.

Once the closing process is completed, you will receive copies of closing documents including an itemized record of all the payments made by you.

When do you need them?

When we look into the legal realm of real estate, particularly the transfer of the real estate, there are times when you may not need the attorney for your real estate deal, and the transaction will process without the assistance of a real estate attorney.

However, in certain states, it becomes mandatory to involve an attorney in real estate deals, where it is unlawful to participate in real estate deals without a licensed attorney presiding.

Moreover, real estate deals do contain some transactions which are too complicated, costly or stressful to do it alone.

Let’s look into a few situations where you might consider taking the help of an attorney:

When it is compulsory:

There are a few states where you cannot deal with any kind of real estate deals without the involvement of a licensed attorney.

When it is complex:

There are situations when it is advisable to involve a real estate attorney when the situation involves complex or unique issues like:

  • Deals involving oil and gas rights
  • Riparian rights
  • Property at beachfront
  • Historical property
  • Properties which are preserved
  • Land use disputes

If you come across any of the mentioned issues or other such related issues, it is advisable to hire a real estate attorney. It will be more cost-effective instead of dealing with a major conflict or claim later.

They will also help you review all the necessary documents that comply with state and federal laws.

When it is a high-value transaction:

If the real estate deal you are dealing with is of high value, then it becomes necessary to hire an attorney to ensure proper execution of the deal.

During a major real property deal, buyers need to make sure that the property is in prime shape and should demand a full home inspection.

The real estate attorney will help you with the home inspection, ensuring that the property meets your expectations and can also help you in negotiating with the seller if any issue arises.

Pros and cons of hiring a real estate attorney

Hiring a real estate attorney is not mandatory in all places except a few. But having them does ease out the process.

In situations where the buyer and seller hire attorneys, they are the ones who take the responsibility of negotiating with the other party and take care of all the contracts paperwork.

But in the end, if it is not mandatory, then it is up to you, whether you want to hire an attorney or not. 

Let’s look into some of the pros and cons of hiring a real estate attorney

Pros:

The biggest advantage of hiring an attorney is that someone else will represent you for which you will have to pay a charge.

But the amount can be a worthy one, as in case of a realtor you might end up paying a higher amount if they are to ill-advise you just for sealing the deal. There are higher chances for this as the realtor will not get paid unless the sale goes through.

The next advantage if you can rest during a stressful time. Your attorney will be the one who will review your contract, title, inspection papers, mortgage, and any other related documents.

Along with this, you will be having someone to council and represent you in case of any unseen legal issues during the process.

Sometimes hiring an attorney can come as a great relief in case of special circumstances. For example, if you are not having a realtor to represent you, or if you have a realtor who is new to the field and is not experienced, or in case your realtor is representing the seller instead of you. At such situations hiring an attorney becomes very important.

Cons:

Although there are no cons for hiring an attorney, apart from the fact that you will be paying up a person during a time when you may be financially taxed. 

You might feel paying up an attorney is unnecessary as you already have your realtor representing you. 

But in many cases, the homebuyers feel it worth paying up a realtor as they usually don’t pay their realtors fees.

How to find the right real estate attorney?

Whether you are going to hire an attorney or not, it is important to know how to get the right attorney for you.  As you may end up needing an attorney in special circumstances. 

Whereas it is vital for those whose states have made it mandatory to hire a licensed attorney for all real estate deals.

When looking for your real estate attorney, it is recommendable to be prepared with a list of questions which will help you decide whom to select. You want to select someone who comes with a lot of experience with your specific type of transaction and with whom you are comfortable.

Consider asking:

•    How long have you been working in the field of real estate?

This is the most important quality you should consider looking for. The more complicated your transaction is the more experienced person your attorney should be.

•    How many similar cases have you dealt with?

Every real estate is different, and it becomes vital to go for an attorney who has experience in handling similar situations like yours. 

•    How much do you charge?

Having prior information of the attorney charges can help you eliminate a lot of unnecessary headaches later on. 

Although the price is an important consideration, it should not be the prime consideration. Depending upon your situation, it may be worth to pay a little more.

•    Will you be assisted by anyone else to work on my case?

In many situations the attorneys are assisted by the junior attorney, so you need to be sure whether you are comfortable with who gets access to your information.

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