Buying a new home or investment property can be tricky business. With so many steps, it’s easy to miss important information in the fine print of your mortgage documentation or purchase agreement. Working with an experienced lawyer can help buyers come out ahead when purchasing real estate.
But do you need a lawyer to buy a new property? Many states legally require an attorney to be present at your home closing. However, while a lawyer is not technically necessary in some states, very few home sales go through without legal consultation.
Having a lawyer on hand can often help you get the best deal for your new property and file all the right paperwork to finalize your sale. Whether you’ve found the perfect fixer-upper or your forever home, now is the best time to call your lawyer.
Here’s how a real estate attorney can help you while buying property.
Why Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer?
Searching through listings and going to showings with your realtor can be fun and exciting. However, when you finally find the right home, the home buying process quickly becomes overwhelming.
Between your realtor, your lender, the title company, and your seller’s agent, you may feel like there are more than enough people involved. With so many moving parts, it may be tough for you to keep track of every stage of your home sale. This is where an experienced real estate lawyer comes in.
Depending on what state you live in, you may need to hire a lawyer to handle your closing. Since many real estate lawyers charge a flat fee, you can request help from your lawyer during other steps of your home buying process, too. Having an attorney review your purchase agreement—especially if you’re buying your house “as is” or requesting renovations—can prime you for a smooth closing.
Different types of property sales may also call for unique or complicated contracts. Real estate lawyers are especially helpful in foreclosures, short sales, or auctions, where your buying agreement has added provisions. Your lawyer can also help with buying investment properties with existing tenants or out-of-state homes.
Before you commit to buying a property, speaking with a lawyer about your circumstances can help them represent your best interest during negotiations.
How Can a Real Estate Lawyer Help Me?
Working with a lawyer can save you time and money at almost every stage of the home buying process. The first step where a lawyer can come in handy is when you’re making an offer.
Often, your realtor can help you choose an appropriate offer amount to make. In some cases, though, different types of property may come with different legal considerations. If you’re buying an investment property, a lawyer can help you tailor your offer for negotiation, especially if you noticed issues with the structure.
When you’re looking at real estate investment, you may be dealing with special circumstances beyond a typical home sale. Once you make an offer and your offer is accepted, a purchase agreement will be drawn up. While a lawyer may not be needed, it’s always smart to have a real estate attorney review this initial contract.
An attorney review period is built into the home buying process, so it makes sense to take advantage of the opportunity for a lawyer to look over your contract. This can put your lawyer in a good position to help you request upgrades or seller’s credits following your inspection.
Once you have a home inspection, you may have things you want the current owner to fix. If you want to submit a new offer or request credits, a lawyer can help guide you. They will coordinate with the seller’s lawyer to negotiate any credits or renovations needed before you complete the sale.
Your real estate lawyer can also request any extensions or changes on your behalf. This can help when there are mortgage delays or if you need a contingency based on selling your home. Many situations come up when buying a home, so having an attorney on hand can make communications between you and the seller easier.
How Can I Find a Real Estate Attorney?
When looking for a qualified attorney to transact your real estate purchases, it’s important to spend time reviewing reputable sources.
Nowadays, attorneys of all stripes rely on digital marketing agencies, such as those that do law firm PPC or organic search, to visualize their brands on relevant channels, such as search engines like Google.
And while Google mostly does a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to attorneys, you should also cross-reference the real estate attorneys you find on Google with other professional organizations that maintain records of lawyer performance. MartingDale-Hubbell is a good example.
Are There Other Times When I Need a Real Estate Attorney?
While having a real estate lawyer helps most home sales, there are some situations where you specifically need an attorney.
For example, you may find illegal extensions or parts of the property during the inspection. A lawyer can ensure that you don’t become liable for something you didn’t do or know about before buying your new home. Working with a lawyer is all about reducing risk, so if there are circumstances that might pose a financial threat down the line, you’ll want a lawyer to review your purchase.
If you live in a flood zone or your home is subject to extreme weather, a lawyer may also be necessary. In these cases, there may also be existing damage to the property, which needs to be carefully noted in your contract. Covering your bases and knowing the laws around maintaining damaged homes can keep your asset safe.
One of the most common times a lawyer is needed is when you buy property from a bank. Foreclosures and auctions may have different conditions, especially if you are financing the home with a mortgage. A lawyer can cover the paperwork and make the process much easier for you.
It’s important to remember that not all lawyers specialize in the same areas. For example, a personal injury attorney would be much better suited to serve you after you suffer an accident. That’s why, when buying real estate, you want to investigate your lawyer to make sure their background suits you before making a final decision.
Make Purchasing Real Estate Easy With an Attorney
When you’re purchasing real estate, you want to make the process as seamless as possible. Many steps come with buying a home, especially in foreclosures or if the property is being sold as-is. Any real estate deal can come with surprises, so having a lawyer on your side can make for a simple closing.
If you’re ready to buy, we’ve got all the information you need to find the property of your dreams! Search through our luxury listings to find the ideal home for you today.