WHAT IF I DON'T CONSULT A REAL ESTATE LAWYER?
In most cases, a person is not legally required to hire a real estate lawyer before purchasing real property. However, real estate lawyers perform a variety of tasks that can help make the home buying process less complicated and that can tend to the buyer’s rights.
Property ownership is usually dictated by state law. Most states do not require a homebuyer to hire a real estate lawyer or even a real estate agent. However, some states only allow a lawyer to prepare documents related to the home purchase, to perform a title search and to complete the closing.
Reasons to Use a Real Estate Lawyer
For many individuals, the purchase of a home is the most expensive purchase that they will make in their life. They may also live in the house for many years to come, making any decisions made during this process significant and enduring. Additionally, property law is an area of law that includes complex legal issues that may not be present in other areas of law. A real estate lawyer focuses his or her time on real estate transactions and likely has more experience in this matter than the buyer.
Tasks that a Real Estate Lawyer Assists With
Real estate lawyers can assist in a number of tasks related to the home purchase, including the following:
A real estate lawyer can help submit a written offer to the buyer. He or she discusses the options with the buyers and can include certain contingencies for the purchase of the home.
Many individuals may not be accustomed to negotiating on a routine basis. A real estate lawyer can offer suggestions related to counter-offers, as well as handle the communications between the buyer and the broker.
The most important document that a real estate lawyer may draw up is the purchase agreement for the home. This is the formal contract for the purchase of the home that details the rights and responsibilities of each party. While many real estate agents use standard forms, a lawyer can provide a customized contract that takes into consideration any unique details or arrangements. Additionally, such standard forms may be written in a way that protects the seller more than a buyer, so having a real estate lawyer can ensure that the buyer’s rights are also being protected.
In particular, the lawyer may include provisions regarding the consequences of what will happen if the seller does not provide good and marketable title within a certain timeframe or fails to show up at closing. Additionally, he or she can include provisions regarding home inspections and the rights of the buyer if problems are discovered during this process. He or she should also include a provision that makes the purchase contingent on the buyer receiving appropriate financing for the purchase.
Even if using a standard form, a real estate lawyer can review it to ensure that it contains all of the pertinent provisions.
A real estate lawyer may assist with additional contracts. For example, he or she may review or draft a contract with the broker. If the property is a rental property, he or she may draft a lease for future or existing tenants. He or she can also review other documents relevant to the transaction, including financing agreements.
The real estate lawyer may also conduct a title search on the home to ensure that there are no clouds on the title. This information is also important to the lender, which has a financial stake in the transaction.
Sometimes during the process of purchasing a home, buyers may run into legal issues. For example, they may discover that there was an unknown encumbrance on the property. They may find that there are existing tenants in the property. They may uncover unknown problems with the home or discover that certain areas of the home are not legally permitted. There may also be certain tax implications due to the transaction.