When someone is ready to buy or sell a house, the first thing they typically think of is getting a realtor or real estate agent. A home staging service or photographer may make their list of contractors to hire. However, they often overlook the most important assistance they need, and that is a good lawyer. Unfortunately, many people only see the importance of having a lawyer oversee the transaction when it's too late. Let’s take a look at why it’s essential that you work with a lawyer when buying or selling a house.
Real Estate Transactions Involve Contracts
When home buyers and sellers meet, they often come up with an informal agreement. However, it is the formal written contract or purchase agreement that you’re legally obligated to meet.
The terms and conditions in the contract can make or break a deal. Unclear terms and conditions in a contract leave you vulnerable, while leaving out key provisions can hurt you. You also want to be able to walk away without penalty if you can’t line up financing or close on the home you want to move into when this one sells.
Always have an attorney review your real estate contracts before you sign them. At a minimum, they can explain unfamiliar terms to you without the pressure to sign that a real estate agent will apply. This is why hiring a lawyer is crucial to any real estate transaction.
Brokerage Agreements Are Not Good Enough
Brokerage agreements are not good enough for most real estate transactions, though they are contracts in their own right. For example, brokerage agreements are typically template documents that don’t cover a wide range of issues. Yet you’re obligated to pay the fees outlined in the brokerage agreement if you don’t sign a later contract to the contrary.
A common mistake is signing the brokerage agreement where you’re required to pay the brokerage commission even if your home didn’t sell. In a worst-case scenario, you may be obligated to pay both realtor commissions out of the proceeds from your home.
Deals Can Go Wrong
Attorneys are necessary to defend your rights when things go wrong. You’ll have the chance to spot title problems and break off the purchase instead of fighting over ownership of your home. You may also need an attorney to defend your interpretation of a vague clause in the contract so you don’t have to pay for massive repairs or give them cash you don’t have.
You could run into problems even when the contract itself is fine too. For example, one party might fail to transfer the necessary funds that were outlined in the contract because the tax or insurance bill went up though they agreed to pay it. Or, there might be last-minute arguments over the disposition of personal property.
You Benefit from Having a Real Estate Expert on Your Side
Real estate agents, home sellers and title agency employees have reasons to give you advice that leads you to agree to the deal. A real estate attorney is there to give you personalized legal advice. They’re willing and able to review closing papers to make sure everything has been prepared properly and they can give you advice on everything from mortgage loans to the deed.
Your home is your greatest asset. You can’t afford for anything to go wrong, and you’ll appreciate the peace of mind that comes from having a real estate attorney on your side.