5 Things Real Estate Attorney do for a Buyer and Seller

5 Things Real Estate Attorney do for a Buyer and Seller

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, it is going to be one of the most engaging and expensive undertakings you will ever venture into.

Besides seeking the help of a buyer’s or seller’s agent to help with the negotiations and the transaction process, you may have to hire a real estate attorney to handle the legal aspects of property sale or purchase.

It is important to have a real estate attorney present at closing. In retrospect, many states and countries have made this mandatory. If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, it is going to be one of the most engaging and expensive undertakings you will ever venture into.

Besides seeking the help of a buyer’s or seller’s agent to help with the negotiations and the transaction process, you may have to hire a real estate attorney to handle the legal aspects of property sale or purchase.

It is important to have a real estate attorney present at closing. In retrospect, many states and countries have made this mandatory. 

Who is a Real Estate Attorney?

A real estate attorney is a lawyer who specializes in dealing with legal matters about real estate.

They come in handy in instances where a dispute arises between parties to a real estate transaction. They also help the various parties in reviewing the paperwork before the closing to ensure there are is nothing left out, and that there are no errors.

As earlier mentioned, it is advisable to have your real estate attorney present at closing, in which case the attorney will represent your interests, whether you are a buyer or seller.

How Can a Real Estate Attorney Help a Buyer?

1. The Preparation of a Sale and Purchase Agreement

The Preparation of a Sale and Purchase Agreement

The sale and purchase agreement is a contract that legally binds you as the buyer and the seller of the property.

It details all the terms and conditions of the sale, including such aspects as the purchase price and the settlement date. It may also include any chattels that are being sold alongside the property.

As such, the sale and purchase agreement is a very vital document when it comes to the purchase of the real property. It has several legal aspects that obligate a buyer to buy the property and a seller to sell the real property.

As you consider buying real estate, you cannot avoid the sale and purchase agreement since this agreement is required in the sale of all types of real estate to secure the interests of both the buyer and the seller.

Since this contract is legally binding, any mistakes may prove quite expensive. A real estate attorney will assist you during its preparation to eliminate errors and to ensure all your interests are represented.

2. Reviewing Title Documents

Reviewing Title Documents

A title document is a piece of document that indicates the legal owner of a piece of property. It would, therefore, be key in determining whether or not the seller is entitled to sell the property.

It is one of the most important document when it comes to the sale of the property. In real estate sales, it is more of transferring the title of the property than it is transferring the property itself.

The real estate attorney will help you as a buyer to conduct a title search and to review the title document. He or she will ensure the title is transferred to you without any encumbrances such as liens.

The real estate attorney has enough legal knowledge to help ascertain such important legal aspects that you would have otherwise probably failed to catch.

You can trust a property attorney to ensure the transfer process of the title is smooth and without any legal burdens, you are unaware of.

3. Negotiating Contracts and Reviewing Contract Documents

There are so many factors contingent in a contract, all or most of which are legally binding between the involved parties. Before the parties come to a final agreement, having negotiations may be inevitable.

Since there are so many aspects to be considered, buyers may not be able to negotiate effectively working on their own. For negotiations to be effective, the individual must know all the ins and outs of the contract.

Real estate attorneys come in handy in such cases since they have so much knowledge in the field. The real estate attorney will also help ensure your contract is adherent to state laws.

He or she will assist you in eradicating all the con-compliant clauses and in the addition of clauses as the need arises.

4. Property Transfer

A real estate attorney will help draft deeds to effect the transfer of real property. The transfer of property is only possible once the contract is ready, after which the transfer is conducted following the prevailing state laws.

The real estate attorney will review all the contracts to ensure no term of the contract is breached. Without a proper legal protocol, you as the buyer may be sued for violating the agreement.

The attorney will prepare all the important documents and ensure the property transfer process is easy for you and effective.

5. Closing

During the closing, all the parties to a contract are expected to be present to sign the various documents about the sale of the property. You cannot afford to sign such important documents without having full knowledge of what they entail or represent.

The real estate attorney will assist you in making sense of the documents before completing the purchase process.

If for instance you hurry and sign documents without rechecking the facts and end up signing documents with mistakes, your lawful ownership of the property may be questioned after the closing.

Hiring a real estate attorney would save you all the agony. Since it may be an expensive venture to hire one, be rest assured it will pay off in the long run.

How Can a Real Estate Attorney Help a Seller?

In most cases, the seller’s real estate attorney has an easier task to accomplish compared to the buyer’s attorney. We shall review some of the instances where a real estate attorney can be the seller’s savior.

1. Drafting and Reviewing Contracts

Drafting and Reviewing Contracts

Before putting a contract in place, you can seek the assistance of an attorney to help reduce the terms of the agreement into a formal contract.

The lawyer can review the listing agreement if it is involved in the sale. The real estate attorney will help make sure certain provisions that protect your interests as a seller are included in the contract, besides ensuring that all relevant state laws and regulations are adhered to.

Such provisions may include clauses that limit development on the property or reserve some interest(s) in the land such as the right to carve out an easement to another piece of property that the seller is not selling.
As a seller, expect many documents to land on your table.

An attorney will critically review them as opposed to just taking them for the literal words inscribed in them. If there are any suspicious or ambiguous wordings, the attorney will help you resolve them.

As a general rule of thumb, the seller should review the contract language with a real estate attorney before it reaches interested buyers or before a real estate agent is authorized to use it during a property sale.

Real estate attorneys have drafted many contracts and probably have a standard real estate contract that they have adopted over the years, one that has been tested and proven.

If you are confronted by circumstances where you have to sign a contract before reviewing it with an attorney, be sure to add a seller contingency, and state that the contract is contingent on review and approval by your attorney within a specified period.

2. Making Amendments

The arrival of new information may necessitate changes to the original agreement. You may change your mind on certain provisions. You may want to reserve the right to timber within 8 years for instance. You may have changed regarding the development limit or property defects.

The real estate attorneys are the best persons to effect these changes. They will draft these amendments in such a way that the new information will be accounted for, with the least possible impact on the original purchase agreement.

3. Reviewing Title Documents

Reviewing Title Documents

The buyer will probably review the title documents alongside an attorney. You probably do not want the buyer to dig dirt, especially one you had absolutely no idea about.

A prudent seller will go ahead of the buyer and review the title documents with the help of a real estate attorney. Have the attorney conduct a title search on the property to determine if anything is clouding the title.

Determine if the property is encumbered. Conducting this search will help ascertain whether or not the seller is legally in a position to sell the property.

For instance, you may not be able to sell the property if you are required to pay off a lien or judgment beforehand. You do not want the buyer to discover this at closing, in which case the sale will be frustrated.

If you have settled the lien or judgment, the attorney can help you prove that better than you would when working on your own. You must consult closely with your attorney as offers and counter-offers are made.

They usually come with new information that has to be accounted for in the contract. For instance, certain proposals may have adverse tax implications. Through the real estate attorney, the seller will be able to catch such small details.

4. Closing

Generally, the seller’s attorney represents the seller and presents the seller’s interests at closing. Before signing the contract, a prudent buyer will conduct a title search to make sure there are no problems that can potentially impact the purchase.

Your attorney as the seller must take the lead in resolving any issues that may arise at this stage. Once the buyer’s attorney approves the title documents, the seller’s attorney goes ahead to draft the deed that transfers the property to the buyer.

Before the closing, the seller’s attorney can review the proposed payment terms put in place by the buyer and the buyer’s attorney. The seller’s attorney will check the math and review the buyer’s credits and debits.

If a lender is holding a note secured by the property, the seller’s attorney should assist in getting a pay-off number from the lender and share this with the seller and the buyer’s attorney.

The seller’s attorney should also prepare a certificate of satisfaction that indicates the seller has paid off the lender.

Where the property has improvements on it, the attorney will get the seller to sign a mechanic’s lien waiver, whose provisions are different in every other state.

The mechanic’s lien waiver provides that the seller shall not transfer the responsibility of paying for any works done on the property before closing to the buyer. Any such works will be paid for by the seller before closing.

In Closing

Hiring a real estate attorney during the sale or purchase of property has often been taken as a liability. Many buyers and sellers back out when they are slapped with hourly charges or huge amounts of one-off payments.

We cannot, however, be oblivious of the fact that selling or buying a home is a complex and engaging process that requires familiarity with the real estate industry and the local and state laws.

Hiring an attorney will help protect your investment and interests, ensuring you conduct your transactions legally and probably prevent costly mistakes.