Buying or selling a home can be a complicated venture. Laws and requirements have changed significantly over the last several years and most people can benefit from hiring professionals to help them through the process. Hiring a Realtor will allow you to access local market knowledge that can be invaluable in your buying or selling process. Likewise, hiring a home inspector or radon inspector can give you knowledge about the property condition and peace of mind that comes from professional inspectors. Mortgage lenders and appraisers also lend their expertise to the transaction. Most people never question their need for these professionals when engaging in a real estate transaction, but what about hiring an attorney? Do you really need an attorney when you have all these professionals involved already?
The answer is YES! None of the other professionals we have already discussed can replace the expertise of an attorney. Your attorney is the only person that can give you legal advice. For most people buying or selling a home is the biggest financial transaction of their lives. When the investment in your property is tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars, why would you not have an attorney involved to safeguard your investment? The legal fees involved in most real estate closings are a very small percentage of the overall transaction but can end up saving you a lot of money and headaches in the end.
What does a real estate attorney do exactly? Generally, the attorney will review the contracts and disclosures, help negotiate any inspection issues that may arise, check over the title work, mortgage and closing documents and attend the closing with you. If everything is in order, you will sign the documents at closing and that will complete your transaction. That is how things are supposed to happen and most of the time they do, but what happens if something goes wrong? That’s when you really need an attorney and if you don’t have one, then what?
What can go wrong? Only about a million things! I’m sure you have all heard horror stories about closings that went bad. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often but if it happens to you, it’s too often! If you are at the closing and there is an issue, what are you going to do? Your Realtor can’t give you legal advice, neither can your lender or title company representative. If the other side of the transaction is being represented by an attorney and you aren’t, who do you think will come out better? When you are sitting at the closing table and there is a problem, it’s already too late to hire an attorney. What if you are selling your house and the buyer doesn’t show up at the closing? What if you are buying a house, all of your belongings are loaded on a moving tuck and the seller doesn’t have their things out of the house? What if the buyers are doing their final walk through right before the closing and there are issues?
Buying and selling property is a complicated process with the potential to have all kinds of issues. Spending the money to hire a good real estate attorney is a decision you will not regret. If everything goes smoothly, great! You will have the knowledge that everything is in order legally and one of your biggest financial transactions is protected. If, on the other hand, you run in to some problems, you will be really happy you have an attorney on your side!