Whether you are buying or selling a home, you have likely asked yourself if you need a real estate attorney. While some states do not require that you use a real estate attorney, you should have a thorough understanding of the benefits they can offer before you dismiss their services. Here are three ways that a real estate attorney can help you when you are buying or selling a home.
Reviewing and Drafting Documents
Like many other business transactions, home buying and selling can come with an overwhelming amount of paperwork. Deeds, leases, and rental agreements are just some of the documents that you will be dealing with during your transaction. Having a real estate attorney available to read over the documents is one of the best ways to make sure that the transaction will be desirable for you.
In addition to reviewing paperwork, real estate attorneys can also draw up new documents for you. While a real estate agent can provide many of the same review services that an attorney can, a licensed attorney is required to draft them. This will be necessary if you will be leasing or renting property that you own for the first time.
Check for Real Estate Encumbrance
Real estate encumbrance refers to any situation in which someone other than the real estate owner has legal interest in the property. This is not ownership interest, but typically it is a duty that is owed by the property owner to a third party. It is important to have a real estate agent to be able to identify real estate encumbrance, as these encumbrances will transfer to you if you purchase the home and become the new property owner.
The most well-known type of real estate encumbrance is a lien. A lien is a claim to any property as collateral for a debt. If you are purchasing a home that is subject to a lien, the lien holder can have your home sold to repay the unpaid debt. This can be a perilous situation to navigate without the aid of a real estate attorney, as you are essentially inheriting a debt that you did not originally owe by purchasing the home.
Negotiation and Counsel
Not only is buying a home one of the largest, if not the largest, purchases you will make in your lifetime, but it also carries the most personal significance. On occasion you may find yourself wanting to purchase a home that seems "perfect" to you, even if it is out of your budget, in a poor location, or if other complications make the purchase a bad deal.
Your real estate attorney can provide invaluable counsel in these situations because they can determine if a purchase is in your best interest, from a detached perspective without any emotional attachment to a particular home. This can save you from overspending or buying a home that is subject to a lien, factors you may be tempted to overlook if you are especially fond of the home.
If you are determined to purchase a home even if the terms are not ideal, a real estate attorney can often negotiate more effectively to lower your payments and make other arrangements. Real estate lawyers have training and years of experience that allow them to come prepared for real estate negotiations. Simply having a real estate lawyer on your side can make the seller's agent more likely to accept terms that he or she wouldn't if you were buying alone.
Real estate attorneys provide many valuable services besides simply closing your real estate transaction. Even if it is not required in your state, you should always consider working with a real estate attorney to maximize your chances of finding the perfect home at the right price.