My wife and I are looking to purchase a home, and we've had friends tell us to get a real estate lawyer. I'm not really sure why we would need one though. What do they do?
Good question. When you purchase a home, you obtain title insurance. You can either obtain title insurance with a title company not backed by an attorney, or hire an attorney who is also a title agent. Two birds. One stone.
An attorney will review your contract, keep you apprised of all deadlines, protect your earnest deposit, make sure you meet all deadlines to not lose your deposit, examine title, examine lien searches, open permits, open code violations, make sure you are acquiring title free and clear, review the taxes, review the closing statement, review your mortgage, note, etc., go with you to closing, and is liable if anything comes up 20 years from now. All this for the same amount a title company will charge you. Sounds like a no-brainer!
The primary function of a real estate attorney is to protect the interests of his or her client. Your attorney is the person who reviews documents before you sign, speaks to related parties (other attorneys, lender, title agent, real estate agents, inspectors, surveyor, insurance agent, etc.) on your behalf, and makes certain you are not paying for charges that are not your obligation.
The attorney should review the title and loan documents, if any, and make certain that your expectations of clear title and fair loan terms are being met.
Buying, selling, or financing real estate with an attorney on your team provides confidence and assurance that you are being protected each step of the way.
Answers to questions on this site are not intended to be specific legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship. Hiring an attorney is a very important process which requires a high degree of diligence as well as entering into an agreement regarding the services to be provided and the fees to be charged.
Depending on whom you ask, the answers to this question will range from “You never need a lawyer in a residential real estate transaction” to “You should always have a lawyer in any kind of real estate transaction.” In answering this question for yourself, you should remember that a lawyer is the only real estate professional who does not have a financial stake in whether a real estate transaction closes or not. You pay the lawyer for advice and representation, and the lawyer’s duty is to protect you, help you solve problems, and to prevent as many future problems as possible. If you want unbiased advice, you should hire a lawyer to give it to you.
There are, however, some red flags that indicate you need to hire a lawyer to represent you:
1. If you feel bullied or intimidated in negotiating with real estate agents or buyers, you should engage a lawyer to act as your “hired gun” in the negotiations.
2. If there are any provisions in the real estate contract that you do not understand or do not agree with, you should hire a lawyer to review the contract for you. You should take the contract to the lawyer to review before you sign it.
3. At any time in the process, if someone asks you to do something that does not seem right to you or that you do not understand, you should put the transaction on hold and consult with a lawyer before proceeding.
4. If the title search discloses a defect in your title that must be corrected, you should consult with a lawyer.
Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.