Should I Hire a Real Estate Attorney? The answer may shock you.
For many people, juggling the responsibilities of work and home is a constant balancing act. Add the additional stress of a potential move accompanied by the time-consuming search for a realtor, finding a new home, and selling the current home, and the most common desire is to have it all over with as quickly as possible. In truth, the average American buying or selling a home probably doesn’t give much thought to hiring a real estate attorney. But before all the documents are signed and property is exchanged, is it a good idea to consult a real estate attorney?
According to an article in the American Bar Association’s GPSOLO eReport, the answer is yes, even for common transactions, like residential closings.
Richard B. Peck and A. Kimberly Hoffman write that while many people do not consult legal counsel about real estate issues when it is not required in their state, doing so can prevent a slew of potential problems that could arise later on, including: contract disputes, property line issues, deed and neighborhood restrictions, and other concerns that may arise after all documents are signed .
“Making the correct choice of lawyer in a timely manner can mean that potential difficulties are identified and addressed before they become major impediments, legal dollars are economized and well-spent, the client’s expectations are met, and expensive pitfalls are avoided,” the authors say.
So why don’t couples or individuals make a point to consult a real estate attorney before selling or purchasing property? Some states, like Delaware, require legal representation during any type or real estate transaction. However, in states where lawyers are not required, it only makes sense that all parties involved want the transaction to be handled as quickly as possible. Time is money, after all.
However, it could be worth the additional time to hire a real estate lawyer in the long run. “[Wanting the transaction completed quickly] often results in a realtor-approved form contract being signed without the benefit of legal counsel, which then sets the stage for disappointments and disputes that may not surface until after settlement,” Peck and Hoffman explain.
Therefore, hiring an attorney to oversee the transfer of property, even those as seemingly simple as residential property closings, will ensure a smooth, hassle-free experience in the long term.
A real estate attorney can make sure that clients fully understand all items in the contract before they sign their lives away. What contingencies exist? Are property lines clearly drawn? Are you aware of all subdivision restrictions and guidelines? It is always best to know up-front what issues exist that could pose future problems and deal with them before taking ownership of the property. With the “big picture” in mind, hiring a real estate lawyer will save time and money, as well as an incurable case of buyers’ remorse.
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