What is the Role of a Real Estate Attorney?


Some people assume working with a real estate agent when buying or selling a home provides enough protection, but bringing a real estate attorney onto your team of professional experts can make the process even easier. Real estate attorneys are able to work on your behalf to review offers and documents, and to ensure your rights are protected through the buying and selling process. Whether you are making or accepting an offer on a property, or plan to do both in the same timeframe, a real estate attorney can help you navigate the sometimes murky waters of real estate law.

Real estate attorneys are members of a regulated profession and are required to meet certain standards in an effort to protect their clients. Real estate agents, brokers and other professionals involved in the home selling and buying process might not be held to these same standards. In order to ensure the most protection and guarantee your deal is airtight, a real estate attorney may be necessary. As a matter of fact, some title insurance companies and mortgage lenders require buyers and sellers to work with a real estate attorney.

As the client, you may be able to choose the services your real estate attorney provides on an as-needed basis. There are several things you will want to consider, but in general, home buyers will want their real estate attorneys to:

• Help them understand the contracts associated with buying their new home
• Explain how they will take title on the property
• Ensure there are no easements, covenants, or liens recorded against the property
• Prepare and register necessary legal documents
• Clarify mortgage terms and work with the bank to create modifications when necessary
• Review any adjustments, including taxes and utility costs paid prior to the finalized transaction
• Attend the closing and review the documents before signing
• Arrange title insurance protection against title defects
• Ensure valid ownership subject only to the liabilities the buyer has agreed upon

For sellers, a real estate attorney should:

• Review and/or prepare the purchase and sale agreement
• Prepare the deed and power of attorney
• Deal with title issues if any arise
• Attend the closing and review the documents before signing
• Arrange for transfer of security deposits
• Assist the seller in preparing disclosures

Legal Fees for Real Estate Attorneys

Attorneys might bill a flat fee to serve as your representative during real estate transactions, but can also bill at an hourly rate. You should request a good faith estimate for the final cost even if you have hired an attorney who bills hourly. Keep in mind problems with real estate transactions can delay the sale of a home and cost both the buyer and seller a great deal of money. Hiring an experienced real estate attorney can protect you from unforeseen costs and inconveniences.

If you are in the process of buying or selling property, or you would like to speak with someone about a real estate transaction, contact Miller and Steiert, P.C. for more information.


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