What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
Home buying is an aspiration for many, often seen as an investment and a better way to spend your money than rent payments. But a home is a significant commitment with a lot of money on the line, so any errors or mistakes could be costly.
Most homebuyers don’t deeply understand the legal issues involved when purchasing a property. But since a home purchase is likely to be one of the most expensive things you ever buy, working with a real estate attorney is a wise choice.
An experienced attorney for real estate will have the knowledge to help you avoid things like disclosure and mortgage fraud, for example. They will help with any zoning or subdivision issues and understand the local real estate laws.
When you hire a lawyer for real estate, they should ensure the process runs smoothly to closing. Representation of sellers and buyers will be a bit different from one another.
Let’s look at what a real estate attorney does for buyers and why you should hire one.
Review Title Documents
The title of the home states the legal ownership of the property. An attorney will check this document to ensure the home seller is the legal owner.
A property title search will show if the property has any issues affecting the transfer between the seller and the buyer. It will show if there are any liens or other judgments against the property that could prevent the sale from closing.
Have a look at how title searches work to get a better understanding of the process. It is one of the more vital tasks a real estate attorney will handle.
Create and Negotiate Purchase Agreements
The agreement between the buyer and the seller is an important contract that sets out the responsibilities and obligations of both parties. It will state what the buyer and the seller need to do during the transaction.
If you hire an experienced real estate lawyer, they will work to protect your interests, making sure the contract is valid. In some states, there are two real estate contracts. For example, in Massachusetts, there is an offer to purchase written when a buyer makes an offer on a home.
A few weeks later, a more in-depth version of the offer is signed. This document is referred to as a purchase and sale agreement. Most attorneys are directly involved with purchase and sale agreements but sometimes an offer to purchase as well.
Sometimes, a real estate attorney will also hold a buyer's escrow funds. It is often determined by local tradition.
Review Mortgage Documents
A mortgage can be used when buying a home when the buyer doesn’t have the cash available to purchase outright.
The mortgage will need to be repaid according to the terms set out by the lender, and an attorney can check the loan agreement details to ensure they are appropriate for the buyer.
A mortgage agreement is legally binding, and a real estate attorney will ensure the transaction is processed with fewer problems.
Real Estate Filings
Many filings are involved in the home purchase, and an excellent real estate attorney will be able to deal with any issues that take place.
Help With Title Insurance
Title insurance is required before closing on the home as protection against claims over ownership. An attorney might help find suitable title insurance and ensure the documents are accurate.
Settle Property Tax Adjustments
The attorney might also review any tax issues to ensure you aren’t paying more than you should be. Their findings will allow you to address any problems they uncover.
When a property is transferred from a seller to a buyer, the property taxes will be adjusted to ensure both the buyer and seller are paying the correct amounts.
Real Estate attorneys will oversee this to ensure it is equitable.
Help With Property Transfer
Transferring the property is the most complicated aspect of the transaction. The transfer must conform with the state regulations, and the documents must be correct to prevent things from going wrong.
Real Estate attorneys will be in charge of getting the deed and mortgage documents recorded at the appropriate registry of deeds.
Assist With The Closing
When closing day arrives, all of the paperwork will need to be signed by both the buyer and the seller. A lawyer for real estate can help at this stage as well, ensuring that the buyer understands and is happy with what they are signing.
With all the contracts and other documents signed and the funds transferred, ownership will move to the buyer. The documents directly relating to the purchase must then be registered with the local registry. This establishes that the property transfer was lawful so that the records can be updated.
At this point, proper ownership is now established.
While you might not be required to hire a lawyer when buying real estate, it’s often a good idea. The process of buying a property can be daunting and complicated, even if it isn’t your first home purchase.
Even small mistakes during the buying process can add up to a lot of money when you are talking about real estate. If you have an experienced real estate attorney on your team, they should ensure mistakes are caught before they do you real financial damage.
Using an attorney should also make the process less stressful, streamlining the purchase and making your life easier. When one of my clients asks if they should have an attorney, my response is always that it's a good idea. It is well worth the money spent.