What a Real Estate Attorney Does If You Need One
When you buy a home, you are not just making a purchase; you are also transferring the ownership of the property from one entity to another. It sometimes makes sense (or even is required) for home buyers or sellers to hire an attorney who can protect their interests since the legal side of this transaction can be so complicated.
Even though you're dealing with a myriad of costs as you close on your home, having a lawyer by your side may end up paying for itself in the long run.
Who Are Real Estate Attorneys?
Real estate lawyers, also known as real estate attorneys, are licensed to practice real estate law. They have the knowledge and experience to advise parties involved in real estate transactions, such as home sales and short sales.
Real Estate Law Coverage
A real estate lawyer handles the purchase and sale of real property, including land and structures. It also covers legal issues related to anything attached to the property/structures, such as appliances and fixtures.
During the acquisition and sale of the property, the real estate lawyer will ensure it follows the proper procedures. Moreover, they may be concerned about how a property is zoned. Deeds, property taxes, estate planning, zoning, and titles are all subject to real estate law.
Each state and local government has its own real estate laws. Licensed attorneys must stay abreast of any state and regional developments that may impact transactions in the state where the real estate process is taking place.
How Does A Real Estate Attorney Help You?
A real estate lawyer is legally authorized to prepare and review documents and contracts related to the sale or purchase of a home. The real estate attorney may also handle your closing in some cases.
In a home purchase transaction, buyers and sellers can each hire an attorney to represent their interests. Attorneys may represent mortgage lenders or title companies when overseeing a home purchase closing with a mortgage loan.
Are Real Estate Attorneys Necessary?
You may need the services of a real estate attorney depending on your locality and state laws (and have the costs included in your closing costs).
During the home buying process, an attorney can provide assistance at a few different points, whether you decide you need one or your state or lender requires it. As a real estate agent, you may also be responsible for drafting and finalizing purchase contracts, writing amendments to a standard contract, completing a title search, or handling closings.
There are a few reasons why you might need or want an attorney on your home-buying team:
State or Lender Requirement
Each state has slightly different laws regarding real estate transactions, and several states consider some actions that are part of the process to be “practicing law.” Most of the time, these regulations aim to prevent real estate agents from acting in a legal capacity that neither are skilled in nor licensed to do so.
In many areas, only licensed attorneys are allowed to prepare the legal documents related to the home sale of a home, since they consider that to be within the scope of their practice. However, some areas now use standardized home purchase contracts that non-lawyers can legally fill out without assistance.
It is also possible for certain states to consider home closing to be a practice of law, and therefore a lawyer may need to be present during the process. If you are getting a mortgage with Mortgage Dove, we require you to have an attorney to conduct your home closing if the subject property is in any of the following states:
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Contractual Issues Regarding The Purchase
A real estate attorney can ensure that all your contracts take into account the complexity of your situation. They help you if any contractual issues arise during the purchase process and involve any out-of-the-ordinary elements that could lead to legal problems down the road.
Peace of Mind
Having a real estate lawyer on your side can be very beneficial whether you fear that something could go wrong, you aren't too sure about all the legal considerations when buying a home, or you want to make sure all your bases are covered. An experienced lawyer can give you confidence that even if a transaction goes awry, they are looking out for your interests and can assist you.
Do Real Estate Attorneys Cost a Lot?
It depends on what services your real estate attorney has provided for you and who is responsible for the closing costs you will be paying. In the event that your mortgage lender requires an attorney to be present at closing, whether the buyer or seller will be responsible for the closing attorney depends on what the real estate contract specifies.
You will also have to pay for any services your own attorney provides in addition to the ones your lender requires. There are a lot of variables when it comes to real estate attorney fees, but here are some general ranges to give you an idea:
- Fixed hourly rate: Real estate attorneys who charge an hourly rate may require $150 – $350 per hour, but this can widely vary depending on how experienced the attorney is and in which area you live.
- Fixed rates for specific services: Some companies may charge a flat fee for particular services. For instance, a real estate attorney could charge $500 – $1,500 to conduct a home closing. It is also possible for their fees to vary based on the sale price of the property.
How does a real estate attorney help buyers and sellers?
Hiring a real estate attorney is essential in ensuring that the legal transfer of property goes without a hitch. An attorney's primary objective and purpose will depend on whether you are a buyer or a seller.
A real estate attorney for a buyer will ensure that the offer made is valid, whereas a real estate attorney for a seller will negotiate the terms of the sale. They protect the rights of the seller or the buyer by examining and evaluating the documents, explaining the mortgage terms, and providing legal advice if necessary.
The Bottom Line
Although buying a home can be confusing and intimidating, you should educate yourself about the various aspects involved. You can benefit from having a real estate lawyer on your side if you are unsure of what the legal implications of your home purchase will be.
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