Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Attorney

real estate attorney

Maybe you’re ready to buy a house. And although the transaction has tons of complications, you’re positively convinced that your agent could sort out all the clutter throughout the process. Purchasing a property, however, is going to be the most costly — and legally risky — investment you’re ever going to make. Relying on a real estate agent alone may not be enough. Unforeseen legal issues and a pile of paperwork could knock at your door anytime. In order to handle every legal aspect of the process your agent can’t deal with, you should hire a real estate attorney.

To help you decide if you really need a lawyer before buying or selling a home, here’s everything you should know about what and how they can help you.


Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?


5min Video: How to Select an Attorney for Your Real Estate Closings

A Quick Overview of a Real Estate Attorney

What do Real Estate Attorneys do?

Real estate attorneys carry out all legal disputes and requirements while transferring your home during a purchase and sales process. While agents are busy with listing and marketing your property, they deal with the legal aspects, including mortgage and disclosure fraud, zoning violations, property taxes, and also issues on disputes like trespass, encroachment, and providing legal consultation.

A real estate attorney is a crucial part of your home buying or selling process —or either you’re in an FSBO or in a Flat Fee MLS service. They are the safety net that protects you from pitfalls and lawsuits. And also who manages to review your draft deeds and several real estate documents to uphold lawful transactions.

On your behalf, they register crucial documents, and also help modify adjustments—in the client’s favor—on terms of contracts and agreements.

In order to acquire a license, real estate attorneys have to undergo exhaustive learning, tricks of the trade, to handle real estate issues. They need to complete several certifications and gain extensive knowledge before practicing the profession.

Nonetheless, you probably don’t need to hire a lawyer if you’ve hired an agent—or it’s only purchasing a residential property—who is more than capable to manage and work with complex matters in your state.

Take note: every state has its own certain rules and laws when it comes to purchasing a property. Some don’t even legally require a real estate lawyer’s assistance during a closing. But whether or not a lawyer contributes a lot, hiring one can definitely lessen your worries.

Why should you hire a real estate attorney?

First off, home buying matters are difficult to handle on your own. Since it’s a crucial investment, there should be no room for mistakes. And whenever real estate disputes may occur, you can let a professional do the work and solve the matter with care.

So, to get things done in a lawful manner and procedure, it’s best to hire real estate attorney than risking losing the deal for one small blunder.

Also, an experienced real estate attorney by your side makes a stressful process convenient. Rather than doing it on your own, an expert with specialized expertise can do ten times better than what your agent and you can probably perform.

real estate attorney

What are the responsibilities of a real estate attorney?

During the closing—a tricky part of the transaction—, a real estate attorney should be present to review the forms and documents. They mostly cover legal scenarios pertaining to mortgage documents, transfer documents, title documents, purchase agreements, and even court issues of homes for sale.

  • They are responsible for reviewing your real estate contract, an important document that has stated all the terms agreed in your purchase, the purchase price, and the conditions of the property. In such a case, they will make sure the document is legal and binding to both parties before signing the document.
  • In circumstances where you need to cancel a contract, they can provide details and procedures before proceeding.
  • Your real estate attorney is responsible for reviewing your documents, including the mortgage loan documents, title insurance policy, and the property deed to make sure the transaction is lawfully smooth. These are complicated documents that need thorough examination and must be evaluated by an expert.
  • During the closing, they will thoroughly review the HUD-1 real estate financial settlement statement and asses on the charges and credits if they’re properly issued upon agreed in contract terms.
  • To keep things running without delays, they will work closely with your broker and mortgage loan officer regarding the schedules on a home inspection, title search, etc. And set an approval on dates when necessary.
  • As the client’s representative, they also provide legal presentations during hearings, legal pleadings, and trials in a courtroom.

When do you need to hire a real estate lawyer?

There are probably numerous cases that call an aid for a real estate attorney. Though some states don’t necessarily require the presence of an attorney, there are matters that highly in need of legal presentation—and also especially if your property is in state of distress

Never let your agent decide if you need a real estate lawyer or not. There’s a high possibility that they don’t want anyone to interfere with the process. Most of the time, they only decide on what’s best for their personal interest, and on how to increase their commission.

Here are real estate situations that you might wanna need to contact a real estate attorney for advice and expertise.

When selling your home as a For Sale By Owner

If you’ve decided to sell a property as an FSBO, it’s prudent to hire a real estate lawyer before signing any written purchase offer. In that way, you eliminate the possibility of ruining your chances of getting the deal.

A purchase offer is a documented legal form of agreement, which consists of the basic proposed conditions and terms of both parties.

A real estate attorney helps ensure that the written purchase offer is right and fair as agreed on by both parties.  Because once the offer is already signed, it turns into a legal contract—a legally binding document. That’s where your real estate attorney comes in to protect you from any issues with the purchase process.

When purchasing a commercial property

There’s a huge difference between a residential transaction and commercial real estate transaction. And it takes a specialized and skilled real estate attorney to efficiently deal with this kind of dispute and litigation.

Most concerns will dwell on zoning issues, the accuracy of legal details, property’s structural conditions, and any environmental concerns that need to address. Your lawyer will guide and assist you to avoid discrepancies.

Commercial property has far more complex challenges than a residential property. Mostly, it involves the state laws and even county rules and regulations which could turn worst for you.

Here are some typical causes of issues or conflict in real estate transactions that your real estate attorney can manage and handle.

  • Failure to disclose a major property issue.
  • When there is a breach of contract if one party fails to follow the terms of the contract.
  • If a breach of express warranty or implied warranty arises.
  • A breach of duty, where the agent/realtor does not perform in the seller/buyer’s best interest.

When real estate litigation or legal disputes could happen

Your real estate attorney can help register documents, draft and review amendments. These are crucial tasks that upheld lawful transactions and fair purchase process. Since attorneys don’t work for commissions, unlike agents do, they only make sure that litigation and disputes be solved immediately from a transaction.

real estate attorney

How to find the right real estate attorney for you?

One of the best bets to find a real estate attorney is to ask someone you trust for a recommendation. Or you can contact the Bar association for a list. But if you’re still not sure of the aforementioned options, there are plenty of ways you can find a lawyer to work with the legal aspect of your home selling/buying journey.

Picking a real estate attorney takes time and a lot of research, but finding the right one will eventually pay off in the end. Here are the best things to consider when picking one that helps perform the most complex task in your transaction.

Talk to different lawyers and ask questions. Figure out who can help you best in your case.

  • How much is your fee? And how will I be charged?
  • How many years have you been practicing law?
  • How many years have you handled real estate law cases?
  • Do you have any professional certifications?
  • Are you familiar and knowledgeable in local ordinances and laws?
  • What school did you graduate?
  • Have you worked anything with the same case before?

What are the qualities of a good real estate attorney?

qualities of a good real estate attorney
What are the qualities of a good real estate attorney? (Infographics)

How much does hiring a real estate attorney cost?

It depends on the level of service you require for legal matters. But some of them charge for an hour that runs $150 to $300 (others can cost $800 to $1,000 for a package), while some charges upfront for a flat fee dealing with specific services such as only handling closing documents.

Whatever the cost may be, the comfort and help attorneys give are indeed worth the price if you really think about it.

Before agreeing to a contract, you can request for a number of hours you only need for your attorney’s service. In that way, you can budget the fee.

Make sure you hire a state-licensed real estate attorney to represent you in all real estate dealings. Check their years of experience and work background if they have also encountered the same as your case before.

Do I need a lawyer during closing?

Yes, because real estate lawyers help prepare your real estate closing, especially the title records. Before proceeding with the transaction, they’ll make sure that the seller can transfer the title deed of the property. They protect the property from any division in certain cases where there is an easement or claims of ownership.

Although some states don’t legally require an attorney present. To take extra precaution, here’s a list of states that require the presence of real estate lawyers during closings of home.

Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Dakota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Lastly, if you got second thoughts on proceeding on any documents, contact your attorney for legal advice or opinion. There are several well-versed and experienced real estate lawyers, but only choose the one that’s honest and true to his/her profession.



Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?


4 min video: Learn How to Submit & Review Offers on Houzeo

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