There are many different circumstances in which hiring a real estate attorney is advisable. A handful of states require the presence of a real estate attorney during closings. In states where a lawyer is not required, there are circumstances in which it is in your best interest to hire someone for legal representation. Whether buying or selling a property, a lawyer can ensure your legal rights are protected. Commercial real estate transactions and overly complex situations require real estate lawyers to guarantee a party’s best interests are upheld. If you are deciding whether to hire a real estate lawyer, keep reading for guidance in your decision-making process.
States Requiring Attorneys in Real Estate Transactions
If you reside in one of the states listed below, you will not have a choice in hiring an attorney. These states require the presence of lawyers during real estate closings: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. Real estate lawyers must be a part of the real estate transaction process for each state listed. If buying or selling, your real estate agent will take care of this step during the transaction process.
What Do Real Estate Attorneys Do?
Real estate lawyers are educated and experienced in the legal aspects of real estate transactions. Sometimes he or she will be hired at the beginning of a transaction, advising, and guiding the process from the start. Other times, real estate lawyers are only hired to act as litigators if a dispute arises in the process of a transaction. There are two subsets of real estate law: commercial and residential. Commercial real estate lawyers work with businesses to buy, sell, lease, and develop properties. Residential lawyers can prepare and manage mortgage, title, and closing documents associated with buying a home.
When to Hire a Real Estate Attorney
Determining whether you need to hire a real estate lawyer depends on a few factors. If not required by state law, deciding whether to hire a lawyer depends on the complexity of your situation. If you are entering a simple month-by-month lease or are purchasing an uncomplicated residential property, you likely do not need the assistance of a real estate lawyer.
When deciding whether to hire a real estate lawyer, do your own research. Do not leave the decision up to a real estate agent, who will have their own best interests at heart. Real estate agents work from commission, and although he or she may be honest, they likely do not want other parties involved in the purchasing process. If you are involved in the circumstances listed below, hiring a real estate attorney is recommended.
Commercial Real Estate Transaction
Commercial real estate deals are complicated, expensive, and involve a high amount of risk. Most people are not involved in commercial real estate transactions on a regular basis, so hiring someone versed in real estate law can help you avoid costly mistakes. When buying a commercial property, there are many factors to consider that are not present during residential transactions. Commercial real estate lawyers will be present to advise you on environmental concerns, zoning issues, liens, easements, legal description accuracy, structural conditions, and any rents derived from the property.
Real estate lawyers do not work on commissions, as real estate agents do. This means a lawyer will have no interest in pushing a commercial property that may not be in your best interests. The lawyer will work on all legal aspects of the transaction to make sure the property is represented accurately and is in your best interest to purchase. If discrepancies arise during the process, the lawyer will have much more legal persuasion with the selling party than would a real estate agent. If you are involved with any commercial purchase or sale, always contact a real estate lawyer. The investment and purchase are too big to be left to agents not educated specifically in real estate law.
Litigation or Disputes Arise From a Real Estate Transaction
Purchasing a residential property may not require the use of a real estate lawyer at the beginning of the transaction, but one may become necessary if litigation or disputes arise during the process. At times, there may be disputes with buying and selling parties regarding terms or negotiations. Property, easement, or misrepresentation in documents can require the services of a real estate lawyer. The attorney can review, negotiate, or draft amendments to ensure your rights are upheld and the purchase is fair. Again, it’s important to note real estate agents work in their own best interests and may not ensure the process is fair for everyone involved.
Complex Real Estate Arrangements
Some real estate transactions are complex and can benefit from the negotiation, management, and review of a lawyer. When purchasing properties, complications can arise that leave the buyer unsure about what to do next. If a real estate purchase is not simply cut and dry, hire a lawyer for guidance. Transactions including problems with titles, disclosure, mineral or surface rights, and tax concerns can all lead to the need for a real estate lawyer. If there is ever a discrepancy during the transaction, it may be in your best interest to hire help. Real estate transactions are expensive, and if mishandled, can result in decades of problems for the buyer.
Deciding to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer
In commercial real estate transactions, always hire a lawyer for guidance. Commercial transactions are too large and expensive to be handled only by a real estate agent. In cases of residential transactions, a buyer or seller always has the option to hire legal representation. If you have never purchased a home, or feel uncomfortable with the process, it may be best to hire a lawyer for help. There are also times when a residential real estate transaction begins easily, but disputes arise during the process. Never settle for less than what you want during real estate transactions. The process should be fair and equitable for both seller and buyer. Do not hesitate to contact a real estate attorney before, during, or after the transaction process.