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Home purchases: hire an attorney or not? P.2

11/24/2011 | Real Estate Blog

In our previous post, we began looking at when it may be smart to hire an attorney when engaging in a real estate transaction.

As we noted, there are times when hiring an attorney can be very helpful and recommended, and there are times where it may not be recommended. Here we’ll look at situations in which it may not be smart to hire an attorney.

One of the reasons often given against hiring an attorney is that it simply overcomplicates matters if the transaction is normal. Some in the field feel that attorneys can create more problems than they fix. In some states, many real estate contracts are “fill in the blank” forms that an attorney would only overcomplicate matters and make a transaction more likely to fall apart.

Another reason given for not hiring an attorney, especially in the case of simple home sales, is that most attorneys are paid on an hourly basis and may find many minor issues to bring up, which will only complicate simple things.

Generally speaking, the following situations may be ones in which an attorney is not necessary:

  • Buyer is represented by a licensed broker
  • Standard forms are used in the transaction and nobody has altered them
  • Buyer uses a title company and an escrow agent when signing the mortgage and closing documents
  • Buyer is purchasing a property that is not under distress (one that is under a foreclosure order or advertised for sale by the mortgagee)

The long and short of it is that you may or may not need an attorney, depending on your specific transaction. But if you do hire an attorney, make sure you hire an expert who knows that their task is to review the proposed contract from a legal language perspective. They should be able to help you understand local real estate law and on relevant legal doctrines that may impact the contract. That should be the area they are consulted in, not on how to make a real estate deal.

Source: Fox Business, “Do you need a lawyer to buy a home,?” Gina Pogol, November 22, 2011.