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How Can Using a Real Estate Attorney Help?

You're about to enter a real estate contract for the first time. You have no one to advise you except maybe a Realtor. The real estate deal may be for a home purchase or some other type of real estate. Or you may be a tenant or landlord about to sign a land use contract.

An eviction case or a boundary dispute can run expensive. A real estate purchase will cost big, especially after tacking on fees for the title company, closing costs, and property taxes. The last thing on your mind might be to spend more money having someone review legal documents. Before asking what a real estate attorney costs, you wonder what a real estate attorney can do.

Homebuyers, property owners, and tenants may try to cut costs by not hiring an attorney for their real estate transactions. However, residential real estate players may want to learn about the benefits of a lawyer. A trained mind with years of experience might help you avoid potentially costly mistakes. They can address frequently asked questions (FAQs) that we all face. Real estate attorneys can also:

This section provides information on what to look for when hiring a real estate attorney. It explores the circumstances wherein you may need one and the documents an attorney must review to advise you. While a lawyer is not a foolproof warranty against legal issues worsening, having a legal expert on your side reduces the chance of problems.

What if You Need Help With Real Estate Disputes?

A real estate lawyer can resolve problems between neighbors, the city, and contractors. For example, suppose there is a confusing zoning law affecting your neighborhood. A zoning law may limit what you can build on your property. Your neighbors might think your construction violates municipal codes. Your attorney can try to keep the peace as much as possible. If that becomes impossible, they'll be reviewing laws and codes to strengthen your argument that you're in the right.

Do You Need a Lawyer When Buying or Selling a House?

For most people, a house is the largest purchase they will ever make. It requires a certain amount of legal know-how, which most real estate agents have to some degree. Depending on where you live, you may be able to work with a lawyer who is certified in real estate law.

While you don't necessarily need a lawyer for the buying or selling process, they may provide valuable legal advice for navigating the real estate issues you face. They can review the real estate purchase agreement and other legal documents for your legal protection.

Legal Assistance With the Purchase Agreement

In real estate terms, the purchase agreement is the formal written contract for the sale. Entering into a contract obligates its signers to certain fiduciary and legal obligations, so it's crucial to make sure you understand what you're signing. For example, you may be presented with a purchase agreement that makes you liable for a brokerage commission even without a final sale. These types of oversights may occur when a real estate agent uses standard forms that fail to account for special circumstances.

If you don't have a real estate agent, having your purchase agreement carefully reviewed by a real estate attorney is especially important. Even those with agents may want to have a lawyer glance at the documentation. There are many moving parts to a house transaction, so (for example) you may not be thinking about the tax consequences of the sale when you're finalizing it.

Real estate attorneys can help you answer countless questions about the purchase agreement, including:

  • Were all additions and alterations done legally and in compliance with code?
  • If you are the buyer and want to make changes to the property, can they be done lawfully?
  • How should the discovery of hazardous waste, termites, asbestos, or lead-based paint be handled?
  • What are the legal consequences if the sale is not finalized? What about the down payment?

Helpful Resources

Your state's bar or bar association might also be a good place to learn more about real estate attorneys. Examples of state bar websites include:

Legal Help for Landlords

Since the relationship between landlord and tenant is legal and may last for years, it's important that landlords work with attorneys. Landlords who don't believe they have any particular questions will want to meet with an attorney before they start renting.

An attorney can review the landlord's policies and lease agreement language to ensure they are within the legal boundaries. Similarly, homebuyers should at least have a lawyer they may occasionally consult. If you are buying or selling a home or need help as a landlord, you may want to contact a real estate attorney. Some lawyers will even work for a flat fee rather than charging you hourly.

Learn About Using a Real Estate Attorney

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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