Written by attorney Marie Nancy Sapienza

Attorney Role v. Realtor Role in Real Estate Transactions - Dual Agency Realtors

Buyer or Seller Representation

When you buy a home you may have realtors working on your behalf to find you the perfect home. If you are selling your home, you probably have a realtor working hard to bring you qualified buyers. They have specific jobs to do and the vast majority do their jobs very well. However, the only way to rest assured that someone will be at the closing table with ONLY your interests in mind, Buyer or Seller, is to hire an attorney to represent you in what is likely the largest transaction of your life.

Attorney Advantages

The state of New Hampshire, unlike Massachusetts for example, permits real estate closings to take place without an attorney involved in the transaction. The advantage to the consumer is lower cost in some cases. However, there are serious disadvantages to consider.

  • If you are borrowing money from a conventional lender to purchase or refinance a home, you must sign about 100 pages of documents. A non-attorney may be able to explain the documents to you, but only an attorney can advise you regarding the effects of the documents in your particular situation.
  • If your transaction requires more than just filling in the blanks of a form, an attorney is necessary. The only third party, meaning someone other than yourself, who may draft a contract, is an attorney.
  • If you use a realtor to purchase a home, he or she will have a template Purchase and Sale Agreement that may be "filled in" when you wish to contract to buy a home. They are trained and capable of this task. However, you may wish to have an attorney draft a Purchase and Sale Agreement suited to your needs, as the Realtor Association forms are very Seller favorable. A lawyer can help you include contract provisions that protect you as the Buyer.
  • Similarly, either a Buyer or a Seller can proceed in a transaction with confidence after an attorney has reviewed their proposed Purchase and Sale Agreement.
  • BEWARE: Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Sales People are extremely helpful and useful in a conveyance. However, they are not your attorney and don't represent you from a legal standpoint in the transaction.
  • Dual Agency - The state of New Hampshire permits real estate sales people, brokers and agents to be what is called a dual agent. This means the agent is permitted by law to work for both the buyer and seller of a property at the same time. Imagine for a moment that you went to a law office for representation against a grocer because you broke your leg on the grocer's slippery floor and the law office asked you to sign a dual agency agreement so that the law office could also represent the grocer that you wanted to sue in the same suit. The conflict of interest is obvious. This is the same set of circumstances that exists when you sign a dual agency agreement. You do not have to sign this agreement. There is no material consequence to a buyer who does not wish to engage a dual agent. The agent just remains the seller's agent. If you wish to hire a real estate agent who works only on your behalf, look for ads that state "buyer's agent" or "buyer representation only."
  • Occassionally issues will arise that affect the marketability of the title to the property. Only an attorney can give an opinion as to title.

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