When is it Time to Find a Real Estate Attorney?
What does a real estate attorney do?
How to know it’s time to find a real estate attorney? A real estate attorney or lawyer prepares and reviews real estate or property transactions. This includes purchases, leases, and even property inspections and home appraisals. There are numerous laws, contracts, and documents involved in a real estate transaction. As a result, the purpose of a real estate attorney is to help clients avoid any legal traps.
A real estate lawyer should not be confused with an estate lawyer or a real estate broker. Estate lawyers assist and advise clients on how their clients should distribute their estate or possessions. They usually do this in the form of wills and trusts. On the other hand, a real estate broker helps people find or buy a property.
When do you need a real estate attorney?
1. When the law requires it
Certain states require a licensed attorney to be present in a real estate transaction. The law in these states varies regarding what the real estate attorney must directly oversee. Moreover, these rules can also vary by locality within each state as well.
For example, in Delaware, a real estate lawyer must be directly involved in all aspects of a real estate transaction. He is responsible for the title review through document signing. On the other hand, in Alabama, non-attorneys can conduct closings, execute a title search, and provide title insurance. However, a licensed attorney must be responsible for all legal documents, such as the deed.
2. When it’s complicated
Although buyers in other states may not require a real estate attorney, you may consider one if the real estate transaction is complex. For example, you may want to consult an attorney if:
- You’re buying a historic property
- You’re buying a property that has zoning or land use disputes
- You’re an out-of-town buyer
- You’re buying a property that is part of a short sale, in a foreclosure auction, or part of an estate sale
- You’re buying a commercial property
- You’re purchasing a property located in a high-risk area, such as a flood-zone or is tornado-prone
Sellers may also want to hire an attorney. A few scenarios are:
- You’re selling a property that may have structural issues or is distressed
- You’re selling a property as part of an estate whose owner is deceased
You’re selling a house with liens
Both buyers and sellers will want a real estate lawyer for different reasons. If you are a buyer, you should never rely on the seller’s lawyer. The person who hires the attorney is the client, and it is the client’s interests that are ultimately represented.
3. When it’s a significant transaction
If you are considering a property that is a substantial investment, you will likely want a real estate attorney. With such a large purchase, you want to ensure that the property checks out. Your attorney will thoroughly search for any liens or judgments as well as execute a proper title search.
4. Handle foreclosure
While some real estate attorneys represent the banks, other real estate attorneys represent the borrower. These attorneys can comb through the foreclosure proceedings and challenge any mistakes made in the foreclosure process. A good real estate lawyer will help negotiate with the lender on your behalf.
How much does a real estate attorney cost?
Some real estate attorneys charge by the hour, with rates that range from $150 to $350. Other real estate lawyers may charge a flat fee for a service, such as reviewing your closing documents. In total, you may expect to pay $800 to $1,000. However, the actual number will vary by where you live.
If you can hire a real estate lawyer early enough, their knowledge may help prevent a larger more costly legal dispute later on.
A real estate transaction is a big deal. You can recruit the help of a legal professional that has your interests in mind. You will be able to sign off on all documents with confidence and a full understanding of what is expected.