When negotiating the terms of a purchase agreement with a real estate agent and buyer, a real estate attorney can work to ensure contingencies are as favorable as possible for the seller. Additionally, a lawyer could review the property condition disclosure statement and make sure the seller is comfortable with what is being disclosed or that no conditions are being omitted or need clarifying. A lawyer can also ensure property condition disclosure statements are made in a way that does not scare buyers while also not exposing sellers to claims of fraud or misrepresentation.
A real estate lawyer can write terms into the purchase agreement to protect sellers' interests. Such terms could include clearly defined deadlines for every stage of the selling process and consequences for noncompliance. A lawyer can advise the seller about what type of deed is in their interest to specify in the contract, such as a warranty deed or a quitclaim deed. A lawyer can also ensure the buyer adheres to the contract's terms.
Attorney Approval Process
A real estate attorney can review the contract after it is signed by both parties. In New York, sellers can reject a purchase agreement without penalty so long as they do so generally within three to five days after signing it. A lawyer's thorough and prompt review of a contract, along with any addendums or riders, will ensure sellers have adequate time to make an informed decision about the contract's acceptance or rejection.
A real estate attorney can review with the seller the home inspection report produced by the buyer's inspector. The seller's attorney can negotiate credits for the repair of any defects identified in the report or, in instances where conditions are far worse than expected, the terms under which a buyer can be released from the contract.
A real estate lawyer will review a title report provided by the buyer's attorney. If the title report identifies any mechanic's liens or judgments or outstanding mortgages or taxes, the sellers' lawyer can advise his or her clients on the steps they need to take to ensure the property's title can clear closing.
On behalf of a seller, a real estate attorney can work with mortgage lenders to address any concerns that could prevent a buyer from obtaining financing for the transaction. If an appraisal of the home by the buyer's mortgage lender is lower than the sale price, a seller's attorney can have his or her lawyer renegotiate the sale price with the real estate agent and buyer. A lawyer can work with the seller's bank to ensure his or her mortgage is properly satisfied.
A real estate lawyer can prepare and review closing documents after a lender approves a mortgage. At the closing, the attorney will review the deed and other ancillary documents with the seller. It is not uncommon for buyers to refuse to sign the closing documents and direct their attorneys to renegotiate certain terms or conditions. If needed, the seller's attorney could enforce the purchase agreement's terms relating to non-compliance, up to and including the day of the closing.
Sellers may find they need representation by a real estate attorney's services after a closing if a buyer believes the sellers improperly removed permanent fixtures or failed to conduct repairs in accordance with the purchase agreement. Sellers could even face a lawsuit alleging fraud or misrepresentation relating to any of the property's non-disclosed defects. Sellers may also find after closing their names are erroneously attached to liens or judgments against the sold property.
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