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Buying and selling real estate is a big decision and an important investment. Given the complexity of real estate law, even the slightest mistake can be costly. This is why you may need a real estate attorney, or real estate attorney, for your particular transaction to navigate all the necessary legal requirements. It can also help you avoid potential landmines, thus protecting your real estate investment.
Here are the different services that real estate attorneys offer and the scenarios in which it makes sense or is not necessary to hire one.
What is a Real Estate Lawyer?
A real estate attorney is a licensed professional who handles legal liabilities related to real estate transactions. Attorneys can represent the interests of buyers, sellers, or lenders. One of their main duties is to prepare and verify the relevant documents required for buying and selling real estate.
Real Estate Lawyer Job Description
The services provided by real estate attorneys vary. Some work on deals related to commercial buildings such as office space. Others focus on developing, selling and buying homes. Others have more general expertise on all types of property.
Here are some tasks a real estate attorney can do during a transaction.
Negotiation of real estate transactions
A real estate attorney will conduct due diligence by ensuring that the transaction includes terms that protect your interests. They also advise that the transaction complies with state and federal laws .
Drafting and reviewing real estate contracts
Lawyers ensure that contracts such as purchase, mortgage, and rental agreements are complete and contain all necessary legal requirements and conditions.
perform a title search
Real estate attorneys also do title searches. A title search is required in many situations to ensure that:
- The Seller has the legal right to transfer the property to the Buyer.
- No liens on property
- There are no ongoing issues impacting the buyer’s ability to own the property
- There are no restrictions or zoning ordinances restricting land use.
- paid all property taxes
Original Title Insurance Policy
Title insurance covers third-party claims on real estate that arise after the real estate transaction has been completed and were not discovered during the initial title search. A real estate attorney can not only create a policy for title insurance, but also review the policy for any exclusions or exceptions that are not covered.
Preparation of financial statements
A real estate attorney can not only handle the loan closing process, but also ensure that all required documents such as deeds and closing statements are properly filed.
Take care of real estate disputes and litigation
An attorney can represent you in a real estate dispute. We can negotiate a settlement or represent you in court if a lawsuit escalates.
Act as an agent in foreclosure proceedings
A real estate attorney is also needed for judicial foreclosure where a lender takes a foreclosure action in court to own a property for which the owner has not made loan payments.
Address zoning and land use issues
Local governments have specific regulations governing land use. Areas are zoned for Single Family Homes, Multifamily, Commercial Only, or Mixed Use. A real estate attorney can assist a property owner or prospective purchaser with petitions to change how the land is used or to represent other owners against rezoning.
Related: What is a Land Lease?
File Quiet Title Action
If issues are discovered during title searches, issues that cannot be resolved by a real estate attorney correcting title in public records should be filed with a quiet title action. This is a lawsuit to name all parties who may have a claim on the property and to respond or notify them to have their rights revoked by the court.
Drafting and reviewing leases and subleases
Real estate attorneys assist in drafting leases and subleases for both residential and commercial real estate. We can also review them for you to make sure there are no conditions that could be problematic.
construction loans and contracts
Real estate attorneys can help negotiate and draft construction contracts and handle construction loan closings. These loans tend to be more complicated than buying a home, covering issues such as costs, deadlines and responsibilities.
Handling Disputes and Negotiations
Whether it’s a dispute over a fence or building encroachment, or a negotiation over the use of part of the property, you need the help of a real estate attorney to protect your interests.
Preparing and reviewing pledges
A real estate attorney can help homeowners associations draft a pledge that governs what owners can do with their property. You can also identify restrictions to restrict.
Other rare scenarios
Finally, even in situations that don’t occur very often, you may need the help of an attorney. Real estate sales, short sales, buying and selling real estate as part of a foreclosure auction, buying real estate in a state other than where you live, selling as part of divorce mediation, or selling real estate to pay off debts .
When do you need a real estate attorney?
Whether or not you need a real estate attorney for most services is up to you, but there are times when you need to hire one.
Many states have laws that require a licensed real estate attorney to be involved in the transaction, especially at closing. These include the District of Columbia and the following states: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Road. Islands, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia.
However, the exact requirements vary from state to state, so check what the law requires in the area where you plan to buy or sell real estate.
In line with state law, some lenders also require a real estate attorney to be present during closing. For example, at Rocket Mortgage, if your property is in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, or West Virginia, you’ll need to hire an attorney.
Should You Hire a Real Estate Attorney?
If the transaction is not in a state that requires the involvement of a real estate attorney, you should determine whether it makes sense to hire one.
When to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer
There are times when it makes sense to work with a real estate attorney. For example:
- I want an independent third party to review the contract and represent my best interests throughout the transaction.
- Depending on the fee, hiring one can be a worthwhile investment to avoid any legal risk or liability.
- Our experts will guide you through all the complex legal issues related to real estate transactions and help you make the right decisions.
When Not to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer
There are also reasons why it may not be best to consult a real estate attorney. For example:
- It can be a significant expense, especially if your state doesn’t require a real estate attorney and your state is a simple transaction.
- Hiring a real estate attorney can have the unintended consequence of making the transaction more complicated than it needs to be, just because an attorney is involved.
- For simple home purchases, the services of a title company are sufficient, especially if legal advice is not required.
How to find a real estate attorney
If you decide to work with a real estate attorney or need to hire one, there are ways to find the best professionals to work with.
- Ask for recommendations. Recommendations from friends, family, or professional contacts, especially those who have recently used an attorney to buy or sell a property, can go a long way.
- Use the directory of the American Bar Association. You can use the directory to find your state’s website and view real estate attorneys in your area.
- Read reviews. Use our online review website to get information about the top rated real estate attorneys in your area, including areas of expertise, pricing, and reviews to help you make a decision.
Related: Is buying a home a good investment?
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