The legal transfer of property from seller to buyer is the real estate attorney’s responsibility. These lawyers take care of duties including document preparation or review, title confirmation, and money transfer facilitation.
The precise responsibilities of a real estate lawyer will depend on who retains them—you, the seller, or the lender—on your state’s legal requirements and what’s necessary to ensure that your property acquisition goes successfully.
What does an attorney for real estate do?
Real estate attorneys manage transactions involving “real property”. Real estate, which consists of fixed-in-place land and permanent constructions, can be used interchangeably with real property.
For the majority of home purchasers, buying real estate doesn’t need to go to court. An alternative is to have a real estate attorney draft or review all of the paperwork involved in buying your house, including the contract, any extra agreements you may have signed with the seller, your lender’s paperwork, and title and transfer documentation. If you hire a real estate lawyer, they could also show up in person or remotely for the closing.
To make sure there are no unresolved claims or liens against the property, real estate attorneys may handle extra components of the house acquisition such as title searches and title insurance. They could also serve as a third party to organize the transaction or supply the seller and your lender with proof of the money transfer.
Of course, if a situation emerges that would prevent the transaction from going through, a real estate lawyer can also offer assistance.
Should you hire a real estate attorney?
Where in the United States you are looking to purchase property may probably influence your decision to engage a real estate attorney. States differ in what constitutes the “practice of law,” thus what a real estate agent or notary public may handle without an attorney in one state could need one in another.
- To complete some aspects of the deal, state law in several jurisdictions, including Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia, mandates that you hire a real estate attorney.
- State legislation mandates the provision of a title opinion from an attorney in other states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Such a statement demonstrates that a lawyer has evaluated the title abstract or examination and finds no barriers to the real estate transaction.
- If you’re dealing with a more complex form of acquisition, like a short sale, or if there’s a problem like a nearby structure crossing the property line, you may still want to hire a real estate attorney, even if they aren’t needed in your state.
Your mortgage lender could occasionally insist on hiring a real estate lawyer for the deal. Given that the attorney isn’t acting on your behalf as a buyer, you might not be responsible for paying the attorney costs.
In states where a closing attorney is necessary, be aware that even if you employ and pay the attorney, they are regarded as a third party whose sole interest is in completing the transaction.
How much will it cost to hire a real estate lawyer?
The cost of a real estate lawyer will vary based on the services you want and how they choose to charge you. The lawyer may bill an hourly rate or a fixed price that covers a certain range of services (such as reviewing the title abstract and offering a title opinion).
The majority of the time, your closing costs include the cost of your real estate attorney. Since it isn’t a fixed price, you may see it on your loan estimate page under “services you can shop for.” Depending on the lawyer you choose and the scope of your legal requirements, the estimate provided in the loan estimate may change.
Finding a good real estate lawyer?
Ask friends or family who have recently bought properties for suggestions if you need help finding a real estate lawyer. Your real estate agent probably has suggestions for attorneys as well in places where hiring one is usual or needed. To make sure they are in good standing, verify your attorney’s qualifications with the bar organization in your state. (Websites of state bar associations can also be used to identify local real estate attorneys.)