The case for hiring a real estate attorney
“Why pay for something when I can do it myself—for free?” That’s the question most people ask when someone suggests hiring a real estate attorney. Here are five compelling reasons to rethink that query.
1. Contracts are complicated
There is absolutely nothing to prevent buyers and sellers from negotiating the terms of an agreement themselves. But for it to become legally binding, they must immortalize their agreement in writing. In addition to transcribing the actual contents of the contract, an experienced attorney will also ensure that it complies with all state laws. While it is true that real estate agents can help with standard contracts, they may not have the legal knowledge or experience needed to catch serious mistakes before the agreement is finalized. Therefore, it is often a good idea to have the contract reviewed by an attorney before either party signs it.
2. Bet might be a problem
Anyone can put up a “for sale” sign, but not every owner has the right to sell. Because it is often a family’s largest asset, the home is an obvious target when creditors are owed money they cannot collect. Whether that creditor is a bank or the IRS, liens and judgments can prevent a sale. Since they are in the public domain, anyone can search for them. But because they work closely with title search companies, attorneys can provide this vital service much faster and at a much lower cost.
3. Documents must be submitted
Even the simplest land deal requires both parties to file documents at the state and/or county level. An experienced real estate attorney will ensure that all legal documents are filed quickly and efficiently. Most importantly, he or she will ensure that the real estate deed is filed with the appropriate government agency and that it is properly recorded. Failure to complete this important step can prevent the new owner from selling the property, taking out a home equity line of credit, or refinancing the mortgage.
4. Government bureaucracy
When the transaction involves commercial property, there are a few additional steps the new owner must take. An experienced real estate attorney can help establish a valid business entity, obtain a tax identification number, and secure a valid business license through your local municipality. All of these important actions can help the new owner focus on the grand opening instead of wasting time on government red tape.
5. Emotional Clouds Judgment
Unlike a real estate agent who is motivated by a commission to close a deal, a respected attorney has no such conflict of interest. He or she simply gives advice based on the law, not individual wants and needs. This kind of unbiased, level-headed presence is often sorely needed during negotiations.
An experienced real estate attorney can help buyers and sellers save time and money in real estate transactions.
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