The case for hiring a real estate lawyer

“Why should I 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 reconsider this investigation.

1. Contracts are complex

There is absolutely nothing preventing a buyer and seller from negotiating the terms of an agreement themselves. But to make it legally binding, they must put their consent in writing. In addition to writing down the actual content of the contract, an experienced lawyer also ensures that all state laws are observed. While it’s true that real estate agents can help with standard contracts, they may not have the necessary legal knowledge or experience to spot serious errors before an agreement is finalized. Therefore, it is often a good idea to have a lawyer review the contract before either party signs it.

2. Liens can be an issue

Anyone can put up a For Sale sign, but not every owner has the right to sell. Because it’s often a family’s greatest fortune, the home is an obvious target when creditors are owed money they can’t collect. Whether that creditor is a bank or the IRS, title and liens can stand in the way of a sale. Because they are public knowledge, anyone can search for them. However, by working closely with title research firms, attorneys can provide this important service much more quickly and at a much lower cost.

3. Documents must be submitted

Even the simplest real estate transaction requires that both parties file filings at the state and/or county level. An experienced real estate attorney ensures 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 state agency and properly recorded. Failure to complete this crucial step could prevent a new owner from selling the property, taking out a home equity line of credit, or refinancing the mortgage.

4. Government bureaucracy

If the transaction is a commercial property, a new owner will need to take several additional steps. An experienced real estate attorney can help form a valid business entity, obtain a tax identification number, and obtain an actual business license through the local municipality. All of these important measures can help the new owner focus on opening rather than wasting time on government bureaucracy.

5. Emotion Cloud Judgment

Unlike the real estate agent who is motivated by a commission to get a deal done, a reputable attorney has no such conflict of interest. He or she advises only on the basis of the law, not on the basis of individual wants and needs. That kind of dispassionate, level-headed presence is often sorely needed in negotiations.

An experienced real estate attorney can help buyers and sellers save time and money on real estate transactions.