Buying or selling a home is something most people only do a handful of times in their life, so there's a lot about the process that people simply aren't sure how to handle. If you're in the middle of that process, it can be invaluable to have someone there to assist. That's what the real estate agent is there for, right? That's true, but only to a certain point. There may be some overlap between the two areas, but a real estate attorney can provide an extra set of eyes (and provide actual legal advice, something an agent cannot do).
If you're considering hiring the services of a real estate lawyer, here are a few things you'll need to know:
Don't wait until you need a real estate lawyer to contact one
For many people, their first contact with a real estate lawyer is when they need one. It makes sense that if a new tax lien on the property gets discovered or a property line dispute arises, it's time to get legal help. Unfortunately, in the world of real estate law, by the time you need legal help, it may be too late. You might cringe at adding another cost to closing a home, but you can avoid some big headaches if you make that call upfront.
Don't assume a real estate lawyer is only for problems
Yes, legal help on your side will make the closing process go more smoothly, but a real estate lawyer isn't just for avoiding trouble. Let's say you've sold only a portion of your property and you want an easement from your remaining land to a public road. Real estate lawyers have specific knowledge about how to make things like that happen with almost no hiccups. Having someone on your side to take care of provisions is well worth the cost (a real estate attorney fee is usually in the neighborhood of a flat $750 to $1,250).
The closing word about real estate lawyers
Some states (22 in all) require a real estate attorney to be present at closing. So in those states, of course, there's no question as to whether or not you need one. But in the remaining 28, you'll find that it's certainly a good idea to still have one look things over. This legal counsel can be hired by either the seller or the buyer or property and can handle almost any type of real estate, from a single-family home to a condo to an investment duplex.
While attorneys often get a bad reputation, if you include a real estate lawyer in your home purchase or sale, you'll find their services are pretty useful - and can avoid some huge problems.