A home is an exceptional investment – and buying one is an exciting time for anyone. In fact, buying a home will likely be one of the most significant purchases you will ever make.
While a realtor is usually the first person most buyers speak within a typical home purchase, the complex nature of buying a home means you cannot rule out any problems. And a real estate attorney is best equipped to handle any issues that may arise. But is it really necessary to have one by your side while buying a home? What does the law say?
Real estate laws vary from state to state. For the most part of your purchase process, the law requires that you do not need the help of a real estate agent, though they can still help you with some legal-related duties such as preparing a contract for the home purchase. However, in some states, only an attorney is required to carry out the title search, prepare all of the home purchase documents, and close the deal.
Why you need an Attorney
All real estate transactions require legal processes, and it would be unwise to go into such agreement without an experienced legal counsel. Ideally, your real estate lawyer should review the home sales agreement before signatures are appended and not after – or it may be too late to effect any changes. Here are a few reasons you need an attorney when buying a home.
An attorney can help you clarify important legal terms, ensuring you avoid some common problems associated with a home sale or purchase. For instance, a seller may sign a brokerage agreement that hardly addresses a number of legal issues – and this happens quite often. In this case, real estate agents use standard forms, assuming that such form can easily be customized to fit all potential circumstances that could occur.
In the absence of a brokerage agreement that covers the desires of the buyer, a seller may be liable to pay a brokerage commission, whether the sales takes place or not. You may avoid any problems if the agreement grants the seller the right to negotiate on their behalf. An attorney can explain the different circumstances that could arise and revise the agreement with the seller if necessary. A real estate attorney will also determine if the brokerage agreement was properly signed.
You alone know what you need in a house. Even if an agent is scouting homes for you, it is important that you scan through the listings as you may discover that your agent doesn’t understand your specific needs as well as you imagined, or won’t take you to see FSBO (For Sale by Owner) listings. An attorney can explain the effect of multiple listings and negotiate the rights of a realtor in the event that the seller cannot deliver a great marketable title or even withdraws the property from the market.
The Purchase Agreement Document
The purchase agreement is a very important document during a home purchase. While standard forms may still be using an attorney can help you explain the form and make necessary adjustments to reflect the wishes of the buyer. A real estate lawyer can also help you determine the legal consequences under certain conditions including:
- If there was an addition or alteration to the property
- If you as a buyer plans to change the property
- If things such as asbestos, lead-based paint, or termites are found in the property
- If the property contains hazardous waste
Most buyers finance a significant amount of the home purchase price with a mortgage loan, it is important that the purchase agreement document effectively communicates the terms of the agreement – including that the agreement is subject to the success of the buyer’s financing commitment.
Once the purchase agreement is signed, the next step is to establish the nature of the seller’s title to satisfy the needs of the buyer and by extension, the financing institution. However, title insurance is not a requirement in some states. In such cases, it is important you get an attorney to review the title status and render a legal opinion of the title.
If you are in an area where title insurance is required, a real estate attorney can help you review the title search and offer explanations concerning the title exceptions where certain aspects are not insured, determining the legal correctness of the legal description. That way, your attorney will also help you identify whether problems exist with prior owners of the property and the legal implications of restrictions or agreements established by a prior owner.
This is the most important aspect of the home purchase process – and it can be a very complex and confusing process too. Since the home purchase balance is usually paid through a mortgage plan, a real estate attorney will help you explain the nature and costs involved in the deed and closing process. The lawyer will ensure the documents are appropriately explained and executed across all the parties involved. Disputes may arise due to cost adjustments such as taxes and fuel costs and even the delivery of the property. If you are present at the closing without an attorney, your rights may be trampled upon.
Thanks to an attorney, you can rest assured there will be no problems and niggling concerns with while you buy your dream home. Property law is a delicate area that can only be handled by an expert to ensure the process is fair to you.
If you are still confused about purchasing Real Estate and have questions, please get hold of Roxane Kaye for a no-obligation consultation regarding your needs to see if we can help you. You can call her at or email her at [email protected].
About the Author: Roxane Kaye, has been practicing law since 2002. She is admitted to practice law in Michigan state courts and before the Federal Bankruptcy Court of Eastern Michigan, Southern Division, as well as the Federal District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan.