When to Bring a Real Estate Attorney into Your Home Buying or Selling Process


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Apr 22, 2015

Buying and selling real estate is an exciting experience that can be complex, but it is something people do everyday. Some even do it without any official representation, but this can be a risky gamble. At the very least, most work with a buyer’s or seller’s agent when conducting real estate business. However, there is another professional that can provide assistance and protection when participating in a real estate deal.
How can you determine if a real estate attorney is necessary in the buying and selling process?

What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?
You might assume a real estate attorney and real estate agent do the same thing, but this is actually not the case. Real Estate Attorneys oversee the legal aspects of buying and selling. Their job is to ensure the rights of the client they represent are protected. Doing so requires checking the sales contract or buyer commitment, checking the property’s title for liens, reviewing mortgage loan documents, and arranging for the payment of any loans associated with the property.

The difference between an attorney and a real estate agent is that an attorney has no stake in whether or not a property sells. An agent relies on the sale of the property to earn a commission, whereas an attorney will be paid for the hours he or she invests in the deal, whether or not it is completed. The agent has a stake in selling or buying the home, whereas the attorney has an interested in doing what is best for his or her client, even if that means the sale or purchase falls through. Of course, working with an attorney increases the odds a deal will be completed successfully.

The benefit of working with a real estate attorney is that he or she works to protect you from financial loss. There is a variety of ways a buyer or seller could lose money in a real estate transaction, so the attorney takes the time to review everything associated with the purchase or sale to ensure this does not happen. It is possible for a real estate agent or the buyer or seller to accomplish this, but depending on the situation, it is well worth the investment to have an attorney oversee the transaction.

Knowing When an Attorney is Necessary
So how do you know if an attorney is necessary when participating in a real estate transaction?

Essentially, it is up to you and your comfort level with the process. If you believe someone is going to work to protect your best interest and has the full capability to do so, you might forgo an attorney. However, doing so is risky.

This is due in part to the complicated nature of real estate contracts. You should never sign anything that you do not completely understand and with which you are not 100% comfortable, especially when it comes to real estate. If you are unsure of any detail included in a real estate contract, an attorney can review the document and better explain to you what it means.

Even if you have purchased or sold real estate in the past, it might be a good idea to work with an attorney now. Any time something is even the slightest bit out of the ordinary, you need the added protection of an attorney. Likewise if you are a first time buyer, buying investment property, purchasing property for above average value, or purchasing more than one property at the same time.

The bottom line is no two real estate transactions are the same. More than five million homes were sold in 2014 and each situation had its own unique set of details. Working with a real estate attorney offers a significant return on investment that you are not likely to regret.