Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why do I need a lawyer for a residential real estate purchase?
A. Intelligent consumers are well advised to enlist the assistance of a qualified real estate attorney. Buying a home will likely be the biggest and most important financial transaction of your life. You need a qualified professional to help guide you through the complicated world of today’s real estate transaction, and help you steer clear of problems.
Your real estate attorney owes an undivided duty of loyalty to you, unlike others involved in the real estate transaction, such as real estate salespersons, lenders, appraisers, inspectors and title insurance company representatives. Before you sign documents involving significant legal rights and obligations, your attorney can explain terms and help you understand what you are signing.
Therefore, you would be well-advised to see your lawyer first. Consult a qualified real estate attorney before signing any offer to purchase property. Thereafter, your real estate attorney can help you negotiate the specific terms of the contract, review title documents and ensure that clear title to the property will be conveyed, help you evaluate mortgage financing options and explain the terms of your mortgage loan, help guide you at closing through the stack of documents that you will be asked to sign, and check to be sure that the conveyance documents have been properly prepared and actually convey good title to the property to you. If you are married, your real estate attorney can also help you evaluate the pros and cons of taking title as joint tenants or as tenants by the entirety, and can explain to you the consequences of the various options.
Q. If I already have a real estate agent who can help me with my transaction, do I need to hire a lawyer?
A. Generally, in a residential real estate transaction, the answer is yes. A real estate agent cannot give legal advice and a real estate agent’s commission is based on the purchase price of the home. Therefore, in order to ensure your legal interests are completely protected you may want to hire a lawyer.
Q. I am involved in a commercial real estate transaction. Can I use a standard form residential contract in the transaction or should I hire a lawyer?
A. There are many differences between residential and commercial real estate transactions. Commercial real estate transactions are often much more complex then a standard residential real estate transaction. While these forms are extremely helpful in a residential transaction, they are not intended, and should not be used, in a commercial real estate transaction. It is always advisable to contact a lawyer to assist you in any commercial real estate transaction.
Q. Do I need to buy an owner’s policy of title insurance if I am buying a house or other piece of property?
A. Yes. Title insurance policies insure that you own good title to the property, free and clear of any matters not listed on the title policy as exceptions. Items such as encroachments, liens, judgments, and other matters affecting title are covered by a title policy. Many other items are covered by a standard policy and a few other matters are available to be covered by endorsements to the title policy to handle specific situations. Visit with your title company escrow officer/closer about the various coverage’s available in your particular transaction in order to get the title insurance coverage that best meets your needs.
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