When Do I Need A Real Estate Attorney? | Rubén J. Padrón, PA

When Do I Need A Real Estate Attorney?

April 25, 2022

If you’re looking to buy or sell real estate, you may have many questions such as, "Should I hire a real estate attorney," or, "What does a real estate attorney do?" It’s smart to consider these questions before making any major decisions. Real estate attorneys play a vital role in property transactions. Properties are often major investments, and the contracts can be immensely complex. As such, hiring a real estate lawyer is often advisable.

So what does a real estate attorney do? They handle many legal aspects of buying and selling real estate, such as clearing titles and writing the contracts themselves. At the base of your typical real estate transaction, a seller transfers a piece of real estate to a buyer, typically in exchange for money. In some cases, however, parties may swap pieces of real estate or conduct other trades.

No matter the specific arrangement, local laws for transferring real estate can be difficult to decipher, and contracts may contain pitfalls that buyers and sellers don’t notice. Fortunately, real estate lawyers can provide counsel and oversight while also drafting important documents and filing paperwork.

Generally speaking, buyers and sellers each bring their own attorneys to the negotiating table. This way, each party is assured that a lawyer is looking out for their best interest.

It’s highly advisable that anyone engaging in a “real property” transaction have a lawyer on their side. Real property transactions are essentially interchangeable with “real estate” transactions. As is often the case with laws, different terms are sometimes used, and it can be confusing.

However, the two terms do have different origins. Real property is the land itself, along with any attached or unattached structures, while real estate generally refers to the business of selling, buying, or renting land and buildings. In other words, when you buy a house, you’re engaging in a real estate transaction (the business of buying and selling houses), and the physical product you’re purchasing is the real property (the house and land it sits on).

Sound confusing? In truth, contracts and laws are confusing, which is why lawyers are often needed.

Real estate lawyers can also help with title insurance and conducting title searches. This is important for ensuring that there are no liens or claims against the property. If there are liens and claims, those must be considered before you make the purchase. Otherwise, you could find yourself dealing with various legal headaches.

So should you hire a real estate attorney? The answer is often yes. And in some states, such as Georgia and New York, you may be legally required to hire a real estate attorney to handle at least some parts of the transaction. Other states, like Alabama and South Dakota, require that you get a "title opinion" from a lawyer.

Attorneys are especially helpful with difficult situations and complex transactions, like determining property lines. Many things can impact the value of properties, and lawyers can raise awareness. Even with straightforward deals, it’s still often wise to seek the advice and counsel of a real estate attorney.

 

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