Buying a home will probably be the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life. More reason you can’t go through the whole process alone. This article explains why you need a lawyer to guide you through what could be the biggest deal of your life.
Buying a home is not only one of the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life, it also involves the law of real property, which is unique and raises special issues of practice, and problems not present in other transactions.
A real estate lawyer is trained to deal with these problems and has the most experience to deal with them. Some states certify lawyers as “Real Property Specialists” as a result.
In the typical home purchase, the seller enters into a brokerage contract with a real estate agent, usually in writing. When the broker finds a potential buyer, negotiations are conducted through the broker, who most often acts as an intermediary.
Once an informal agreement is reached, buyer and seller enter into a formal written contract for the sale, the purchase agreement. And the documents for the property are examined.
Finally, the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the seller receives the purchase price bargained for in the contract. This seems simple, but without a lawyer, the consequences may be more disastrous than purchasing a car that turns out to be a lemon, or a stock investment that was unwise.
A lawyer can help you avoid some common problems with a home purchase or sale. For example, a seller may sign a brokerage agreement that does not deal with a number of legal problems.
Even if a lawyer is not needed during the course of negotiations, the buyer and seller each may have to consult with a lawyer to answer important questions.
The purchase agreement is the single most important document in the transaction. Although standard printed forms are useful, a lawyer is helpful in explaining the form and making changes and additions to reflect the buyer’s and the seller’s desires. There are many issues that may need to be addressed in the purchase agreement; below are some common examples:
If the property has been altered or there has been an addition to the property, was it done lawfully?
If the buyer has plans to change the property, may what is planned for the property be done lawfully?
What if the property is found to contain hazardous waste?
Again, it is important to remember that printed contract forms are generally inadequate to incorporate the real understanding of the buyer and seller without significant changes. Lawyers can review and explain the importance of the various documents available during the transactions as regards to the property in question.
After the purchase agreement is signed, it is necessary to establish the state of the seller’s title to the property to the buyer. Generally, a title search is carried out
Your Lawyer can help review and explain the title documents. He or she can also help determine whether the legal description is correct and whether there are problems with adjoining owners or prior owners.
He or she can also explain the effect of easements and agreements or restrictions imposed by a prior owner, and whether there are any legal restrictions which will impair your ability to sell the property.
The closing is the most important event in the purchase and sale transaction. The deed and other closing papers must be prepared. Title passes from seller to buyer.
The closing process can be confusing and complex to the buyer and seller. There may also be last minute disputes about delivering possession and personal property. If you are the only person there without a lawyer, your rights may be at risk.
Perhaps the most important reason to be represented by an attorney is conflicting interests of the parties. Throughout the process, the buyer’s and seller’s interests can be at odds with each other, and even with those of professionals involved in the sale. The broker generally serves the seller, and then the buyer and his representatives.
Both want to see the deal go through, since that is how they will get paid. Neither can provide legal counsel. The respective lawyers for the buyer and seller will serve only their own clients’ best interests.
Seeking the advice of a lawyer is a very good idea from the time you decide to sell or to buy a home until the actual closing.