Buying a house is complicated. It can feel confusing and overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. A real estate attorney can provide professional guidance and help you understand your rights and obligations. You may feel that the additional expense is worth it. In some states, a homebuyer must have an attorney, at least for the closing.
Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Attorney
Even if you aren’t required to retain a lawyer, it may be in your best interest to do so. An attorney can help with a range of issues that may arise during the homebuying process. For instance, a title search may reveal an issue related to the ownership of the property, liens or confusion about the location of the property line. You may learn that an addition was built without permits. A real estate attorney can explain how those issues may affect your rights and responsibilities if you buy the house.
Contracts are often long and difficult to understand for anyone who doesn’t have a legal background. A house is a major purchase—probably the most expensive one you will ever make. An error in the contract or a clause that you overlooked may cost you tens of thousands of dollars. A lawyer can review the contract, make sure you understand all the terms and point out any clauses that may be cause for concern.
An attorney can provide legal advice to help you decide whether to purchase a particular property. While your real estate agent is an excellent source of information on matters such as the condition of a house, the quality of the local schools and services available in the area, an attorney can give you additional insights from a legal perspective. For instance, if the current or a previous owner granted an easement to another party to use a portion of the property, that could affect your ability to use the land as you wish. Depending on the circumstances, an attorney may advise for or against purchasing a property.
Reasons Not to Hire a Lawyer
Your agent likely has years or decades of experience in the industry and a detailed knowledge of the community and the local real estate market. You may feel that you don’t need additional guidance from a lawyer, especially if you have gone through the homebuying process one or more times in the past.
Attorney’s fees can be expensive. You may not be able to afford a lawyer or you may feel that it isn’t necessary to hire one. If you have a family member or a friend who has experience in real estate law, you may decide to rely on that person’s guidance. Just make sure that the individual has relevant legal training and experience and will provide you with sound, objective advice. If not, you may be better off seeking help from a real estate attorney.