We recognize that not every residential transaction requires a real estate attorney. If you are buying a home that you will use as your primary residence and the transaction uses a FARBAR purchase contract, you may not need an attorney.
However, if you will not be using a FARBAR purchase contract, or if you are an investor, or you are buying a commercial property, you should have a real estate attorney working with you as early in the process as possible.
They can provide important guidance at every step of a transaction. They are also in the best position to review and draft precise legal documents that make sure your interests are fully protected.
Negotiating the Transaction: Real estate attorneys help buyers, sellers, and lenders negotiate the terms of the deal. They also conduct the due diligence to make sure the everything with the property checks out. During this phase, their primary job is being alert for any risks that could harm the client if they are not properly addressed. Often, especially in commercial properties, particular risks are addressed with changes in the purchase price, indemnification agreements, or insurance.
The more complex a transaction is, the more important it is to involve a real estate attorney in the negotiation process. This will make the later review and drafting of legal documents more efficient because the attorney will already be familiar with the contours of the deal.
Review & Drafting Legal Documents: Because real estate transactions involve hundreds of thousands, millions, or tens of millions of dollars, it makes sense to have a real estate lawyer carefully review all of the legal documents before you sign them.
Often contracts are written to favor sellers. You want a real estate lawyer working with you to point out any clauses that are unfair or that make the deal undesirable.
They have years of experience handling complex transactions. They know how courts will interpret different clauses and phrases in a purchase contract. They can also draft the legal documents you need for your specific situation.
When you are dealing with an important investment you don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution. You want a carefully crafted agreement narrowly tailored to your needs.
Title Issues: Title is the system for keeping track of land and real property ownership. The title history of a piece of property is about more than just who has bought and sold the property. The title history should also detail the type of ownership interest that was bought and sold, any easements, any liens, or any other encumbrances on the property.
However, sometimes there are problems with the chain of title. If a problem with the title is not properly resolved it could jeopardize your ownership interest in the property you purchased or make it tough for you to sell the property in the future.
Title related services are some of the most valuable legal services a real estate attorney offers. They can review the title history and work to resolve any issues.
Closing Services: If you are buying a home you may not need a real estate attorney to conduct due diligence or draft a complex purchase agreement. However, you are still dealing with a lot of money and a stack of legal forms to sign before the home becomes yours. It makes sense to be cautious before entering into a big transaction and have an attorney attend the closing with you to make sure everything is in order.
They also have an important role to play in closings of commercial properties and representing lenders and investors at closings. Their role in these situations is to provide one final check that everything is going according to plan and the transaction is being closed on the agreed terms.