6 Reasons Why First-Time Home Buyers Need to Have An Attorney | Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont
Buying a home is arguably one of the most expensive and important purchases you will make in your lifetime. The last thing you want to happen is to buy someone else's problems and end up with an expensive mistake. Ever see the "Money Pit?" If so, you know exactly what I am talking about. This post will discuss 6 reasons why you should never buy a house without a real estate attorney.
#1 Contract Law is at the Heart of a Home Purchase
When you buy a home, you are entering into a legally binding contract. While it might seem like a standard form, the legal language you agree to will have a significant impact on what happens in the future. Contract law is a vital component of home purchases because it governs the relationship between buyers and sellers. The purchase agreement is the contract that lays out the terms for the sale of the property. It defines what both parties agree to do or not do for the sale to go through.
A real estate lawyer will make sure that the contract and rider you agree to will protect you from misrepresentations made by the seller, defective conditions of the home, the inability to obtain a mortgage, and other potential problems. He or she will review every word in the contract before signing off on anything. Real estate law is highly complex, and most people are not aware of what they don't know about the process. A lawyer's experience and their knowledge of what could happen if there are any exceptions allow them to provide much more guidance than anyone else would be able to do so and can provide you with much-needed peace of mind.
#2 Real Estate Agents are Not Lawyers
Attorneys love working with real estate agents, especially when the deal involves first-time homebuyers. That said, while your real estate agent can help you find your dream home, assist with inspections, and negotiate pricing or the aspects of the deal, they are not qualified or permitted to provide you with legal advice. More specifically, they are also not allowed to give you an opinion about the legality of a contract or rider that they may be recommending you sign. You can rely on your real estate agent for a lot when it comes to buying your first home, but your agent cannot provide you with the same guidance, protection, or advice that an attorney can.
You've probably heard about stories where a buyer will elect not to hire an attorney and will have their real estate agent represent them, and everything goes wrong in the process. The buyers end up losing their deposit or, worse, end up getting sued for breach of contract. By choosing to save less them $1,800 for the attorney, the buyers end up losing so much more.
"Real estate law is highly complex, and most people are not aware of what they don't know about the process."
#3 Level the Playing Field
In most situations, the seller will be represented by an attorney. As a purchaser, you want to make sure that you are not being taken advantage of in any way. Having your own attorney who is looking out for your interests helps you level the playing field.
The seller's attorney is involved beyond the initial contract negotiations. He or she will be involved in the inspection process, certain title aspects, credit, repairs, and price reductions, and much more. Most importantly, the seller's attorney is only interested in protecting the seller's rights, not yours. By hiring your own lawyer, you will have someone on your side to help you navigate through the purchase process and to protect you.
#4 Post-Inspection Changes
Negotiating the post-inspection offer is a critical step in the home buying process and one that's best done with an experienced real estate lawyer by your side. If an inspector finds serious problems with the home you want to buy, your lawyer will be able to negotiate repairs, credits or a price reduction. In fact, more often than not, home offers are revised after the home inspection takes place. If the seller refuses to agree to negotiate, your lawyer can help you terminate the contract.
#5 Title Documents
Your lawyer will review title documents before closing. This includes reviewing the title insurance policy and the complete title report. For example, he or she will make sure that a claim on the property has been satisfied or released and the there are no other issues clouding title to the property. If there are any questions about the title (such as an undisclosed lien), your lawyer can help you obtain information from the seller and advise you on how to proceed.
For example, let's say that the title report shows an undisclosed easement. Your attorney can negotiate a deal with the seller, and in some cases, the easement holder so that you can purchase the property and still have use of the easement.
Another example is where a fence or other structure is located over the property line. Your attorney can help you negotiate with the neighbor so that your property line is clear and free of any encumbrances. This prevents you from having legal issues with the neighbor once you move in.
#6 Representation at the Closing Table
Your lawyer will be present at the closing table with you. This is where you sign on the dotted line and make a commitment for the next 30 years or so (depending upon your mortgage agreement.) Your lawyer will review the closing documents and ensure that all the terms and conditions are in accordance with the previously negotiated agreement.
Sometimes issues may arise at the closing that your attorney can address. For example, the seller's mortgage lender may not be in attendance, and the closing agent refuses to proceed. Your attorney can call the other party, explain your situation, and get a decision or agreement on what needs to happen next so that you can close.
First-time homebuyers need an attorney on their side. If you are a first-time homebuyer, it is critical that you have legal representation to ensure your interests are protected, and the purchase process goes smoothly. An experienced real estate lawyer can help make sure all of the agreed-upon conditions for sale are met before closing on a property and provide guidance through any unforeseen issues so that they may be resolved in advance of signing on the dotted line.
Do you know what questions to ask? What important points should not be overlooked during this process? Contact us today! We're ready to answer any questions or concerns about buying your first home.
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