So, you are ready to jump into the world of homeownership. You’ve been saving for your down payment. You’re carefully thinking about what’s important to you in the house you choose.

You have a real estate agent who’s been showing houses and you think you’ve found the one. You also have the inspector and the mortgage broker all doing their part in the process to get you into a house.

Now, you’re wondering do I need a real estate attorney, too? What does the real estate attorney do that is different from the other players involved in the process?

And if you’re pinching pennies, you might be wondering do I really need to pay another person to get me into this house?

Read on to learn all about real estate attorneys and the 6 times when it makes lots of sense to hire one.

What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

A real estate attorney’s involved in the legal actions connected to real estate. They might get involved as you begin the process of buying a piece of property. The attorney might also become involved if there are disputes connected to the purchase.

There are two types of real estate attorneys.

One type would handle commercial real estate transactions. Often this means they are dealing with construction, development, and zoning related issues.

The other type of real estate attorney will deal with residential real estate. This means they would be involved in the many steps of buying or selling a home.

There is one unique feature of working with a real estate attorney, whether it’s commercial or residential. They do not work for commissions like a real estate agent or mortgage broker might.

Because they don’t have a vested interest in whether a sale goes through or not, they can give sound objective advice to those they represent.

1. When You Must Hire a Real Estate Attorney

You always want to consider hiring a real estate attorney if you’re worried you don’t understand something or you want to make sure the legalities are in place.

There are many states across the US that require a real estate attorney to be present with making a sale of a property. These states include:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Whether you are buying real estate or selling it, you must have a real estate attorney through the transactions in these states. Of course, it’s a good idea in the states that don’t require it too.

2. Commercial Real Estate Needs for a Real Estate Attorney

Commercial real estate is unique and most people have a pretty limited experience level with it. It can be very costly to buy commercial real estate and it comes with some risk.

For this reason, if you’re involved in buying commercial real estate, it’s a smart idea to get a real estate attorney to guide you through the process.

A lawyer advising you on commercial real estate might help with:

  • Environmental concerns
  • Zoning issues
  • Liens
  • Easements
  • Legal description accuracy
  • Structural conditions
  • Rents derived from the property

If you are purchasing a piece of property that you intend to lease out for long periods of time, you want to make sure you have the right contracts and lease agreement so you are protected.

3.  You’re Represented

This has already been mentioned, but the importance can’t be stated too clearly. Whether you are buying a commercial piece of property or a residential piece of property, the real estate agent is there for you.

Sure, you might really like and trust your real estate agent. But the truth is they don’t make any money if they don’t make a sale.

Your real estate attorney has no vested interest, either way, to make sure the sale goes through. They are just there to make sure the sale is done in a legal manner and that your interests are represented, whether you buy the property or not.

4. Real Estate Contracts and Documents

The real estate attorney’s role is to make sure you are advised and protected and to assure that all documents connected to the sale of the property are done correctly.

They will evaluate the contracts leading up to the sale. Their role will also be to check over the documents that are part of the sale of the property. These documents might include:

  • Property deed
  • Legal descriptions
  • Mortgage loan documents
  • Closing documents
  • Title and the title insurance policy

Any errors in these documents can be costly and can delay the sale of the property.

5. Give Advice on Rights

In a perfect world, you find a great piece of real estate. You make an offer and agree on a price. The paperwork gets done and bam, you are a homeowner.

Of course, buying real estate often comes with more hiccups than that streamlined process.

The property may have issues you need to address. Maybe there is asbestos, lead paint, or even has termites. In some cases, you might decide to walk away and not buy the property.

In other cases, you might change your offer and renegotiate. Your real estate attorney can help with the legalities, especially when there are complications to the sale.

This would also be true if litigation or disputes arise after the sale’s finalized.

6. Financial Documents From the Sale

Finally, the real estate attorney can be responsible for making sure all the financial documents are accurate for the sale. You don’t want to be charged the wrong rate or pay more fees than necessary.

Understanding When Do I Need a Real Estate Attorney

Still, wondering do I need a real estate attorney?

If you are about to buy a piece of real estate it makes sense to have your interests protected by hiring a real estate attorney to guide you and protect your legal interests.

If you are buying real estate and are looking for a real estate attorney, we can help. Contact us today to set up a consultation to go over your needs.

Bryan De Bruin

Bryan De Bruin is a Real Estate and Business Law attorney serving Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate. Bryan is proud to guide clients through the legal process and makes sure that every client understands each phase of their case, so that they are prepared for what happens next.