When it comes to the complicated process of buying or selling a home, business, or other property, a real estate attorney can provide the expertise you need to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
These professionals specialize in property law and help buyers and sellers complete the transaction per state and local laws. Some states and lenders require an attorney to facilitate the closing. Still, even if yours doesn’t, there are several benefits to bringing a real estate attorney into the fold.
1. Assists with the purchase contract
A real estate attorney can help you understand and negotiate the legal aspects of the purchase agreement. They will verify that all contract contingencies—including home inspection, mortgage approval dates, additional deposits required for the down payment, and any other time-sensitive clauses—are adhered to and completed on time. This will help avoid any breach of contract to protect your interests.
In addition, a real estate attorney can assist in drawing up agreements that require special consideration, such as nonspousal, group, corporate, or LLC property purchases. They will have the experience and knowledge to properly draft and execute these contracts.
2. Negotiates home inspections
Home inspections can reveal significant issues with older homes or properties that have been poorly maintained. Your real estate attorney can be a vital asset in negotiating these issues, which can be complex to resolve since the buyer and seller must agree on repairs, replacements, price reductions, or monetary credits at closing. For instance, they can help you understand the inspection report results, assess the costs, and develop a fair and equitable solution. They can also draft a clear and comprehensive addendum to the purchase agreement that safeguards your interests.
3. Helps navigate complex issues
If your transaction involves any unusual elements, your real estate attorney can help ensure that the purchase contract is clear and legally sound to reduce the risk of future complications. You might face this with nontraditional listings, including an “as-is” sale where the seller provides no warranties or representations of the home’s condition, a for-sale-by-owner home whose seller might not fully understand their legal obligations as outlined in the purchase agreement, or a property located in areas with unique legal agreements, such as mineral, gas, or oil rights. You may also encounter unexpected issues like a leaking underground oil tank on the property that requires soil remediation.
4. Prepares the title insurance policy
Though there are two types of title insurance—lender’s and owner’s—the buyer is usually required to purchase one to protect the lender’s interest in the property. However, you can also opt to purchase an owner’s policy for your protection. Your real estate attorney will initiate a title search to verify the chain of title, which is a list of all previous entities that have held legal ownership of the property. They will then carefully examine the search results to identify if any liens or encumbrances are attached to the property. And if there are, they will take the necessary steps to resolve them before the closing can proceed.
5. Completes your closing
Having an attorney by your side ensures a smooth and well-managed closing process. Before closing, they will prepare various essential documents, including the deed, certificate of title, settlement statement, affidavits, and any power of attorney documents. They will also review your closing costs for accuracy, which typically encompass the real estate agent’s commission (if you are the seller), attorney fees, title search costs, discount point fees, taxes, and escrow amounts. Furthermore, your attorney will go over the closing disclosure with you , which your lender is required by federal law to provide three business days before the closing on the home loan, highlighting the terms.
If you plan to buy or sell a home, consult your real estate agent, who can help recommend an attorney to get the best possible advice and representation.