Imagine that you’ve found a house in an ideal location that you hope will be your residence for the foreseeable future. It’s a place you can raise your kids, walk the dog and make memories that will last a lifetime. Settlement on the home is a few weeks away, but you’re already looking at paint chips and thinking about where you’ll put your favorite recliner.
Then, your real estate agent calls and tells you that your pending sale has fallen out of contract. The seller’s agent made slight changes to the contract before you signed it – changes that he was not authorized to make – rendering the contract null and void. Now, the seller has decided that she doesn’t really want to sell.
Hopefully, this scenario hasn’t happened to you. Real estate transactions can be quite complicated and involve numerous professionals, from title companies and lenders to attorneys and multiple real estate agents. Having an experienced professional on your side, like a real estate attorney, who can represent and protect your interests, can often pay dividends.
What do real estate attorneys do?
- Review Key Documents. Specializing in real estate transactions, these attorneys are legally authorized to prepare and review documents and contracts related to the sale or purchase of a home. Did you know that in many states, real estate agents are not allowed to write or significantly amend real estate purchase contracts but can only fill in the blanks on contract templates?
- Preside Over Closing. Typically, these attorneys preside over a real estate closing, where buyers and sellers sign dozens of documents that make the transaction legal. (Sometimes the closing lawyer is solely representing the buyer’s lender and not the buyer.)
- Title Searches and Title Insurance. Attorneys’ research can help you discover if there’s an existing lien on the property. They can also make sure your new home’s title insurance provides sufficient protection for you.
Under what scenarios would an attorney’s advice and negotiating skills be especially helpful?
- When buying a home that’s part of an estate sale, auction or foreclosure.
- When purchasing a home located in a different state.
- When selling a home that’s part of a divorce settlement.
- When selling a home that’s part of an estate sale.
- When buying or selling a home that has major structural damage.
- When selling property that has liens on it.