What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
As well as being one of life’s huge milestones, buying real estate is one of the largest single purchases you will ever make. It is not only important in the short term—as a place to live and make your home, but also in the long term as an investment in your future.
That being said, there’s no question it’s a lot of money on the line, so it makes sense to have the best professional advice every step of the way. Purchasing a home involves the law, so getting a real estate lawyer involved ensures that your decisions and transactions are undertaken, overseen, and protected by someone trained and credible. Real estate lawyers know all the rules and regulations inside out so you don’t have to worry about breaking any—those kinds of mistakes can be costly!
If you are thinking of purchasing property— especially if you are buying a home for the first time—you should consider obtaining the services of a lawyer that specializes in real estate transactions. Even though it isn’t required by law to work with a real estate lawyer, they can help smooth out any potential bumps in the road to becoming a proud new homeowner.
What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
The practice of real estate law includes all aspects of legal work related to the acquisition, ownership, development and disposition of real property. In this case—the purchase of property, real estate lawyers can serve a number of purposes like reviewing documents, checking title to the property, preparing and negotiating agreements so that they properly reflect the transaction.
Real estate lawyers get involved after the price and terms have been decided upon and signed in a contract drawn up by the real estate agents. Then they review, negotiate and adjust the terms of the deal and close the transaction. To read more in depth about the process, read Milestone Real Estate Lawyer’s Guide for Homeowners Buying Your Home.
How a Real Estate Lawyer Can Make your Life Easier
One of the more common frustrations when working with large transactions like the purchase of property, is the sheer amount of confusing agreements, forms, terms, and steps involved. It is certainly possible for things to be missed by the agent (and by you) that could end up making you liable for certain issues. A lawyer can be an additional set of eyes (and brain!) to catch any mistakes and be able to explain everything clearly to the buyer.
After the purchase agreement has been signed, your lawyer will gather information about the property for you. This starts with a title search. A title search will help establish that the property is what you (and your lender) are getting what you expect and pay for. Your lawyer will review the title search and help explain what the search contains. Some of the other information that your lawyer will gather for you includes the tax information of that municipality—that will factor in to the Statement of Adjustments closer to closing.
As well as getting the information on your behalf, a real estate lawyer will also prepare all necessary documentation that is needed to complete and register the purchase and mortgage. It is up to the buyer and the buyer’s lawyer to make sure that those documents are completed. These documents will include the Transfer, Statement of Adjustments, Property Transfer Tax Return, and the preparation and registration of the mortgage.
Finally, the most important part of the process—closing! Apart from being the exciting conclusion of the home buying journey, it can also be one of the more complex and confusing moments. Agreements are signed and any balance left on the purchase price is paid at this time so that the title can pass from the seller to the buyer. As in every step before this, it is highly valuable to have the trained eyes of a real estate lawyer to make sure that everything is accurate and reflects the terms of the Contract. There is always the possibility of last minute issues or disputes that put your rights at risk, a lawyer can prevent that from happening.
Risks of Real Estate Without a Lawyer
Even if this is your tenth real estate purchase, every transaction comes with a myriad of potential risks. There is the possibility of fraud, unnecessary inflation of the price, or contract issues. The seller may try to back out of the deal or something may happen that requires you, the buyer, to do the same. A real estate lawyer can also protect you from being held legally responsible for issues created by previous owners like zoning, tax or easement issues. Having a skilled and trained professional there to help navigate through the largest purchase of your life is invaluable.