when to get a realestate lawyer involved in the sale of the house.

by Ms. Lisette Hoppe IV 9 min read

You don't need a real estate lawyer to sell your house — unless the state you're selling in legally requires you to use one. In some circumstances, though, like if you're selling for sale by owner or you're dealing with unique property issues, it's in your best interest to hire a real estate lawyer.May 18, 2022

Full Answer

How much does a real estate attorney cost?

Real estate attorneys cost $150–350 per hour, and usually bill in six minute increments. Or, they may charge a flat fee for certain services. Costs...

Should I use a real estate attorney if I'm selling FSBO?

Unless you're an experienced seller, you should hire a real estate attorney to prepare the purchase agreement and other documents when you sell FSB...

How do I find a real estate attorney?

A great real estate agent can refer you to a great real estate attorney. You can also find real estate lawyers through professional organizations l...

What is a real estate lawyer?

A real estate lawyer is licensed to practice law and specializes in real estate transactions. A real estate lawyer is familiar with all aspects of the home purchase process and can represent buyers, sellers or lenders. In states where a lawyer is required to be present at closing, it’s possible that the lawyer is there solely to represent ...

What is the most important document in the home sale process?

It can help you avoid potential problems down the line by making the contingencies as favorable to you as possible. The contract is the most important document in the home sale process, and it includes several negotiable issues. Some of the most important issues in the purchase contract involve: Timing. Your timeline for closing on the property ...

What are some situations that are unusual and might require an attorney’s advice and negotiating skills?

Here are some situations that are unusual and might require an attorney’s advice and negotiating skills: You’re buying a home that is part of a special type of sale, such as an estate sale, short sale, auction or purchase from a bank. You’re purchasing a home that’s in another state.

What could affect the timeline for closing on a home?

Your timeline for closing on the property could be affected by the sale of your own home or issues largely outside of your control, such as unexpected lender delays. Inspection. A home inspection can uncover many problems, and a seller and buyer could end up negotiating on who will pay for repairs.

What is closing on a home?

Closing. The moment you’ve been waiting for— closing on a home sale or purchase —often involves dozens of pages of legal documents to review. A lawyer can help both the seller and buyer navigate the review, which can be especially intimidating and confusing to a first-time homebuyer.

Why is it important to have a lawyer in a negotiation?

This is important because when you’re in the middle of a potentially contentious negotiation that needs to be resolved quickly, you’ll want the lawyer to be available to advise you and negotiate with the other party.

Can a lawyer review a purchase contract?

Although real estate agents usually play a central role in preparing purchase contracts, a lawyer could provide a review of the purchase contract terms. What’s more, real estate agents are generally limited to filling out contract templates, rather than drafting them from scratch.

What to do when selling a house with a tenant?

When you decide to sell your house with a tenant living in it, you have a couple of options: Wait for the tenant’s lease to expire or ask them to vacate. Sell with the tenant in the home and transition their rental agreement to the new owners.

What is the most important thing to hire an attorney?

The most important thing, according to Rogers, is that the attorney you hire knows real estate inside and out and practices in your area. “You might as well not have any representation than to have someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing,” Rogers said. “That’s like having a dentist perform your open heart surgery.”.

What to do if you are left responsible for a property after the death of the owner?

You’re selling on behalf of the deceased owner. If you are left responsible for a property after the death of the owner, and the owner didn’t set up a living trust, you will need to go through probate to sell the home.

What to do if you get a foreclosure notice?

Are you facing foreclosure?#N#“If you get a foreclosure notice, the first thing that you should do is contact an attorney ,” said Wasserman. “There are ways to save the foreclosure and get an injunction but it takes times and the more time that you have, the better.”

What to do if you fear your home will be foreclosed on?

If you fear your home may be foreclosed upon or if you have already received a foreclosure notice, contact a real estate attorney. You may be able to sell your home as a short sale or negotiate the terms of your mortgage with the help of a legal professional.

What to do if you co-own a house with someone?

You’re going through a divorce or separation. If you co-own a house with someone and you want out, you’ll need an attorney —especially if the other name on the house doesn’t want to sell. A real estate attorney will represent you and your rights when you’re up against an uncooperative co-owner in tough negotiations.

What can an attorney do if you inherit a trust?

Once you have inherited the rights to the property, your attorney can help you manage any debt, taxes, or complications with the property. “In terms of a trustee selling something out of a trust, there could be specific language in the trust requiring certain terms,” said Wasserman.

Why do you need an attorney when selling a house?

You’re the heir or executor of a property whose owner is now deceased. You’re selling a house with an uncooperative partner. You have judgments or liens on the property.

Why do I need a real estate attorney?

Reasons to hire a real estate attorney even if it’s optional 1 You’re an out-of-town buyer. 2 You’re buying a property that is a short sale or bank-owned. 3 You’re buying a property that is part of an estate sale. 4 You’re buying a commercial property. 5 You’re buying a property that could potentially have some structural issues. 6 You’re buying a property in a problematic area such as a flood zone or areas with adverse conditions (tornado-prone, radon, toxicity levels, etc.).

What is the education required for real estate agents?

As part of agents’ licensing education, they’re taught and tested on real estate contracts used within their state, many of which also require continuing education courses and/or certifications on subjects such as ethics, buyer’s agency, distressed property sales, and more.

Why do I need a real estate attorney?

Many experts argue that one of the best reasons to hire a real estate attorney is that they’re the only party who isn’t working on commission – meaning that , since they don’t have a financial stake in the final sale price of your home, they’re the only truly neutral third party.

Why is a real estate attorney important?

A good real estate attorney provides a backstop for your real estate agent, finding loopholes in the purchase agreement, saving you money with contingencies, and maybe even insulating you from lawsuits years down the line. Let’s go over some of the situations where hiring a real estate attorney is a good move, the responsibilities ...

How much do real estate attorneys make an hour?

Real estate attorneys are paid by the hour — market rates are between $150 and $350. You may be able to negotiate a flat rate, or a cap on the number of hours they work on your behalf.

Why do agents work on commission?

Works On Commission. Because most agents work on commission, they make more money the higher the final sale price goes. That’s great if your priority is extracting every possible dollar from your sale. But sometimes sellers just want a quick sale, or want their property to pass onto someone who appreciates it.

What are the benefits of being an agent?

A great agent doesn’t just help you buy or sell a property; they also offer a sympathetic ear, gentle advice, and all around emotional support. A huge financial transaction can be a huge source of stress, and a good agent knows how to reassure their clients.

Is a realtor a negotiator?

Real estate agents may be skilled negotiators, but their leverage is limited. An attorney wields the threat of litigation, which is expensive and, if the other party is in the wrong, potentially disastrous. That means they wield significant influence in any negotiation.

Do I need a commercial real estate attorney?

This isn’t the case when it comes to commercial real estate . Commercial real estate deals are much more complicated and risky, and there’s usually a lot more money involved, so hiring a commercial real estate attorney for a commercial transaction is basically required.

What happens if you make an offer on a house and aren't represented by a real estate agent

If you make an offer on a house and aren't represented by a real estate agent, the seller's agent may offer to take care of everything. This is known as “dual agency," and it can cause problems because one agent cannot truly look out for the best interests of both you and the seller.

What happens when you hire a lawyer?

When you hire a lawyer, your lawyer only works for you and will make sure your interests are protected. 4. There is a problem with the property or the deal. A lawyer can help you resolve some of the tougher, more technical issues that might come up.

What can a lawyer do?

A lawyer can interpret and explain these rules, advise you on the feasibility of your plans, and help you structure the transaction and gain the approvals you will need to move forward. 7. Your instinct tells you to talk to a lawyer.

What to do if someone threatens to sue you?

You may also need legal advice if the property is involved in a foreclosure or other litigation, or if you get into a dispute with the buyer or seller. Always talk to a lawyer if someone threatens to sue you. 5. You are concerned about the tax consequences.

What is a "for sale by owner" deal?

A “for sale by owner" deal can save you money on real estate commissions, but you still need someone to prepare the purchase agreement, deed, and other documents. A lawyer can get your paperwork in order, ensure the title is good, and help you with the fine points of negotiating the transaction. 3.

Can you deduct home office expenses if you are a seller?

If you are the seller, you could be liable for capital gains tax if the home has increased in value. If you are the buyer, you may be able to deduct mortgage interest, home office expenses, and some or all of your property tax.

Is it smart to hire a real estate lawyer?

But there are times when it's a smart idea to hire a real estate lawyer. Here are seven home buying and selling situations where a lawyer's insights can prove invaluable. 1. State law requires you to use a lawyer. In some states, lawyers must be involved in certain aspects of a real estate transaction. In other states, lawyers are optional.

What does a real estate lawyer do?

A real estate lawyer often conducts a title search on a property to determine if there are any encumbrances against it or anything that is clouding the title. This search helps clarify whether the seller has the legal right to sell the property and whether there is anything that may block the sale. For example, the seller may be required to pay off a lien or judgment before selling the home. A real estate lawyer can also secure proof that the judgment or lien has been satisfied.

What happens if a deed is not recorded?

Property law is full of cases involving properties that were purchased but no deed was ever recorded, creating legal nightmares for buyers. A real estate lawyer can ensure that the deed is properly filed and recorded. If a deed is not properly recorded, the buyer may not be considered the legal owner. His or her income and estate taxes may be levied.

Is real estate the most expensive transaction?

However, real estate transactions often represent the most expensive transaction that a person makes. Spending the extra funds to ensure that the job is done right is often a prudent choice. Real estate lawyers help in the following ways when you are purchasing or selling a home:

What is real estate lawyer?

A real estate lawyer is trained to handle these problems and has the most experience to deal with them.

What is the purpose of an attorney when signing a deed?

Once the deed and other closing documents are signed, an attorney can make sure that these documents are appropriately executed and explained to everyone.

What is a title search?

Title Search. After the purchase agreement is signed, it is necessary to establish the state of the seller's title to the property to satisfy the buyer and the financial institution. Generally, a title search is ordered from an abstract or title insurance company. In some states, title insurance is not typical.

How to avoid problems with a home purchase?

Avoid Vague or Unclear Terms. A lawyer can help you avoid some common problems with a home purchase or sale. For example, a seller may sign a brokerage agreement that does not deal with a number of legal issues. This happens quite often as realtors often use standard forms, expecting that they will cover all situations.

What to do if a lawyer is not needed during the negotiation process?

Even if a lawyer is not needed during the course of negotiations, both the buyer and seller may want to consult with a lawyer to answer important legal questions, such as the tax consequences of the real estate transaction. The tax consequences may be of critical importance to a home seller.

What can an attorney do to help with title insurance?

Assuming you are in an area where title insurance is customary, an attorney can help review the title search and explain the title exceptions as to what is not insured. They will also determine whether the legal description is correct and whether there are problems with adjoining owners or prior owners.

What happens if you are the only person in the US without a lawyer?

If you are the only person there without a lawyer, your rights may be at risk.

What does a lawyer do in real estate?

Lawyers who specialize in real estate ensure that proper procedures are followed during the acquisition or sale of property. They also may be concerned with how a property is zoned for usage. Real estate law covers deeds, property taxes, estate planning, zoning, and titles.

What does a real estate attorney do?

A real estate attorney prepares or reviews all of the documents that are signed at the closing of a real estate purchase. The attorney is then present at the closing to represent the buyer's (or the seller's) interests. Real estate law is a matter for state and local jurisdictions.

What is closing on a property?

Closing is when the money is paid and the title is transferred. The attorney is there to ensure the transfer is legal, binding, and in the best interests of the client. During the purchase of a property, the real estate attorney and staff might prepare documents, write title insurance policies, complete title searches on the property, ...

What is real estate law?

Real estate law encompasses the purchase and sale of real property, meaning land and any structures on it. It also covers legal issues related to anything attached to the property or structures, such as appliances and fixtures.

How long does it take to become a real estate lawyer?

Qualifications. Like any lawyer, a real estate lawyer has earned a law degree, which typically takes three years of study for a full-time student. They have also passed the state bar exam administered by the state in which they practice. Training for real estate law may begin with elective courses and internships during law school, ...

Which states do not require real estate lawyers?

Four states—Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio— do not require real estate lawyers, however they are typically involved in transactions according to local custom and practice. 1. If you don't live in one of these states, it's up to you whether you want to hire an attorney.

Do you need a real estate attorney at closing?

Many states require a real estate attorney be present at closing. Even if your state does not require one, you might want a real estate attorney to be there for you. A real estate attorney will represent your interests at closing. They will review all paperwork in advance and advise on any problems or omissions with the documentation. 1.

What does a real estate lawyer do?

However, real estate lawyers perform many important functions for sellers, including drafting and reviewing contracts, conducting due diligence, and overall protecting and advocating for the seller's interest. Need a Lawyer?

What is it called when you transfer property from one owner to another?

There are a number of ways in which real estate lawyers are able to transfer property from one owner to another. This is called conveyancing and is a legal means of property transfer.