Real estate attorney cost, basics and more
Once you’ve put so much effort into the homebuying process, you want to finish strong during the closing. That’s why you hire, at significant expense, a number of experts during this final stage.
Aside from a home inspector and other specialists, don’t forget to consider bringing aboard a real estate attorney to help give you peace of mind – especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer who is unfamiliar with the entire closing process. Though many are wary of involving lawyers in their affairs, this is a case where adding to the price of closing costs should definitely benefit you in the long run. Real estate attorneys can also be a boon for sellers, especially if there are liens on your homes or if you are involved in a short sale.
What does a real estate attorney do?
Armed with a law degree and having passed the state bar exam, the real estate attorney has been trained to offer expert advice on your behalf. The most common benefits of hiring a real estate attorney include:
- Protecting your interests
- Understanding and handling documents
- Unusual transactions
Protecting your interests
Others involved in your homebuying purchase or home sale are not obliged to look out for your interests. A real estate attorney is. The lawyer can deal with any issues that arise and negotiate a productive solution or even amend a contract if necessary.
The attorney works with the title company to guard against any potential legal issues, such as encroachments on the survey. If the neighbor built a fancy fence on the buyer’s soon-to-be property, the new owner will not want to inherit this issue. The lawyer will be helpful when negotiating issues that have been unearthed by the home inspection. Some buyers want to ask the seller if they can move into a vacant house prior to the actual closing. Your attorney will explain why this isn’t a good idea.
Understanding and handling documents
At closing, you will be swamped with hard-to-understand documents, dozens of pages packed with legalese. A real estate attorney can help you navigate the morass. He or she handles all of the financial paperwork with the home closing, including state and local taxes – paperwork that could overwhelm the average person. The attorney ensures the fees noted are appropriate.
Making sure the legal paperwork is in order and filed with the appropriate county is another task of the real estate attorney. He or she handles legal documents that a buyer or seller usually don’t even know exist. Further, the attorney will ensure you don’t sign anything that could harm the value of your property down the line.
The real estate attorney will uncover glitches that need to be addressed. Having expert eyes on the home contract and other paperwork is crucial to make sure they are 100 percent accurate. The attorney will be with you at the actual closing to make sure everything is as it should be.
Not every home purchase is a simple agreement between a buyer and a seller. The buyer might be dealing with a property that is owned by a bank. The seller could have inherited the property and has little understanding of its value or its history. In these and other atypical, complex cases, paying for the expertise of a real estate attorney is highly beneficial.
At what point should I bring in a real estate attorney?
The real estate attorney typically gets involved once the terms of the sale have been agreed upon, and the attorney will then deal with the nuances of the agreement. But he or she can be brought in beforehand if, say, the buyer is from out of town and wants further protection or if the sale is an all-cash one. Also, if the buyer or seller is not confident in negotiating the results of a home appraisal, the attorney can work on that.
Are you required to hire a real estate attorney?
More than a dozen states require that a real estate attorney be hired to be present at the closing (for some reason, they are predominantly on the East Coast and in the South). If you do not live in one of those states or the District of Columbia, the decision is up to you, whether you’re the buyer or the seller.
How is a real estate attorney different from a real estate agent?
Real estate agents do not have the background to provide legal advice. It’s not part of their licensing. Though real estate agents perform a valuable service with their knowledge of neighborhoods and comparable home sales, a real estate attorney will be able to answer and solve legal questions that arise during a home sale.
What is the cost of a real estate attorney?
The cost varies depending upon the lawyer’s experience and what part of the country the house is being purchased in. Real estate attorneys may charge a flat fee, perhaps in the $750 - $1,500 range, or charge by the hour.
What’s the best way to find a real estate attorney?
You should always check with your area American Bar Association. Also, contact those in the real estate industry for a suggestion by searching online for “real estate attorneys near me.” Always make sure to interview a handful to find the one you’re most comfortable with and who you feel will represent your interests best.
A real estate attorney can benefit both buyers and sellers. This specialized lawyer can help solve issues involved in the complex world of closing on a house, such as dealing with and explaining all of the contingency clauses, and can even be brought in earlier to help negotiate issues that they might understand better than the client. Though the real estate attorney is yet one more cost amid many when buying a home, he or she can help avoid problems that would be even more expensive than the attorney’s fee down the line.