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Risks of Not Using a Real Estate Attorney When Buying A Home

Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
May 11, 2020

The list of problems that can arise during a real estate transaction is lengthy and without an attorney to handle those problems, should they arise, the process can be scary. Potential problems during a real estate transaction include, but are not limited to:

  • Improper transfer of deed resulting in a variety of taxes to be levied against the buyer or seller
  • Confusion over items in the modification letter, even with the guidance of an attorney
  • Liens revealed in a title search or missed due to an improper title search
  • Buyers backing out with or without a contingency
  • Default by the buyers
  • Failure to obtain “clear to close”

Beyond issues that can happen with any real estate transaction, certain scenarios nearly demand to have an experienced attorney. Below we’ll cover five common scenarios when, as a seller or buyer, you should hire a real estate attorney and what you risk by not having one on your side.

The Property You’re Buying or Selling is in Disarray

Whether you’re looking for your first income property, a seasoned house flipper, or selling a home that you inherited, if the property is in poor shape or uninhabitable there will be legal stipulations from the outset. Often these properties are sold “as is” meaning there will be no inspection done prior to the closing. This helps to streamline the process, as buying a dilapidated house and then going through inspection negotiations would be a nightmare. Not having an attorney to review all the documents associated with this type of sale makes you vulnerable and at risk of getting a raw deal.

You’re buying or selling a property with known issues, or issues that you know will arise at the inspection or near closing.

Usually, it’s the seller in this position if the buyer is purchasing the home without any prior knowledge before the inspection. Either way, if you know there are structural issues, liens, etc, associated with the property the situation already elevates itself above a standard home transaction. Without a lawyer, you may miss something that can lead to unnecessary expenses before or after the closing.

You’re Selling a Property Occupied with Tenants

In this scenario, you’re not only dealing with the normal headaches of a real estate transaction but now the rights of the tenants are involved. It goes without saying, not having a good attorney here could lead to a slew of legal issues. Missing an important line in the contract or misinterpreting a legal stipulation could cause you more than just the sting of a terminated deal.

You’re Buying a Property in Another Town, State or Country

This is a common occurrence with work, relocation or investment properties. Your attorney will be the primary method of communication between you and the other party. He or she will handle the mundane legal items and convey to you the important points that actually need your attention, saving you costly trips and time. Without an attorney, you risk violating the real estate law in that area and increase the chance of failing to properly and timely file the appropriate documents.

In conclusion

Even though you may be a whiz at real estate transactions, the monetary cost of hiring a good attorney is peanuts compared to the potential loss of time and money when trying to go it alone. A seasoned, competent attorney will make sure the process adheres to the stipulations of your state and municipality, and that you proceed towards, and finalize the closing with as few issues as possible.

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Risks of Not Using a Real Estate Attorney When Buying A Home

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