Buying or selling a home often involves a fair amount of stress, tons of decision-making, and dealing with several professionals—a real estate attorney should be one of them. The law of real property is unique and raises special issues of practice, which a real estate attorney is specially trained to handle.
Anyone entering a real estate transaction is expected to sign contracts, including but not limited to: brokerage contracts, formal sale contracts, and commitments for financing. The property title must also be searched before the property can officially be transferred from the seller to the buyer. Should anything go wrong with a contract or in the title transfer process, it would be extremely difficult for a buyer or seller without legal training to navigate the issue alone.
At the very least, a real estate attorney can help explain to the buyer or seller what the language in a contract means, and what the consequences will be if the contract is broken on either end. An attorney can then help revise any agreement that does not meet the desires of one party or the other.
Consulting a real estate attorney is especially helpful in signing the purchase agreement, which is often considered the single most important document in a real estate transaction. Though a standard form is usually presented to both parties, a lawyer can help explain the document and make changes and/or additions to reflect the needs of the buyer and seller. The standard nature of the form does not usually allow for all necessary questions to be addressed or answered, but an experienced real estate attorney will bring some of the following questions to the attention of the buyer and seller:
- If there have been changes or additions to the property, were they made lawfully?
- If the buyer has plans to change or add to the property, can they be made lawfully?
- What happens if termites, asbestos, radon, lead-based paint, or other harmful elements are discovered upon a buyer-conducted property inspection?
- What if the property is found to contain hazardous waste?
- What are the legal consequences if the closing does not take place? What will happen to the down payment?
For the title search process, an attorney should review the title search, explain title exceptions, determine whether the legal description is accurate, and flesh out any problems with prior owners. A real estate attorney will discuss with the prospective buyer any issues that may arise with selling the property in the future, and counsel them on further action. The attorney can also provide insight on zoning violations, which are not covered in the title.
Seeking the help of a licensed, experienced real estate attorney is important in nearly every step of a real estate transaction, but the most common, and perhaps most important, reason a real estate attorney is usually hired, is to handle conflicting interests. While lenders and brokers can provide assistance, both want to see the sale go through. But, if each party has legal representation, they can rest assured that someone is looking out for their best interests throughout the buying or selling process. For more information regarding the importance of a Real Estate Attorney, [Click Here].