Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney?

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When selling or buying a home, you can lean on the legal expertise of an attorney. A real estate agent, especially one that is experienced, will be able to handle the entire transaction from start to finish. So, why would you consider hiring an attorney?

Why People Hire Real Estate Attorneys

The role of a real estate attorney is to go through the entire process, from documentation to titles, to ensure that your sale or purchase goes through without any issues. Your interests are protected through the entire process thanks to the attorney.

An attorney can go over the agreement and ensure that everything is in your best interest.

Attorneys can also consider offers on a property, draft contracts and even review transfer documents. Deeds can be written, and the final breakdown of settlement funds will all be checked by an attorney.

If any issues arise, including a lien or judgment, the attorney can represent you.

Real estate agents can guide you through the entire transaction, too. But real estate agents don’t have the legal expertise that an attorney offers. A traditional home sale won’t require an attorney in most cases, but high-value sales and complex sales may benefit from an attorney.

The attorney will also go over listing agreements with the agent.

Requirements Vary by State

Most states do not require an attorney to conduct a real estate transaction, but other states will require an attorney for everything from the initial document prep to the closing process. The states that do require an attorney include:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

Location requirements must be checked before conducting a real estate transaction. The rules also vary from state-to-state. Massachusetts will require a bank attorney at closing, and this leads to the majority of sellers hiring an attorney to watch over their best interests.

Maryland, on the other hand, doesn’t require an attorney for transactions, and very few buyers and sellers will hire an attorney. Even if there is no legal requirement to have an attorney, it doesn’t mean that attorneys are not beneficial.

Buyers or sellers often hire an attorney so that they can have peace of mind that the transaction goes smoothly.

When dealing with the following, it can also be beneficial to hire an attorney:

  • Foreclosures, whether going through one or purchasing a foreclosure, a real estate attorney is beneficial.
  • Short sales are prime time for an attorney, and the attorney can help avoid foreclosure and proceed with the short sale process as quickly as possible.
  • Properties that have liens or judgments are also legally complicated, lawyers help push the process along.
  • Owners of the property have died, so you’re selling the property. Probate attorneys are often required so that you can be sure that the trust’s wishes are upheld.

In the case that the property is being sold as part of a divorce or separation, an attorney can also help ensure that division of property laws are followed.

While a real estate attorney may not be required for all real estate transactions, depending on the state, they can offer legal insight if issues do arise during the transaction.


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Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417
United Real Estate - Addison, TX
Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate

The only times any of my clients brought an attorney into a transaction in Texas was when the attorney was a family member or if there was a guardianship or probate involved.

May 28, 2019 06:21 AM #1
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David Jackson, MBA

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