Real estate attorney

Tiziana Paris
Tiziana Paris, odvjetnica

Do you need to pay for a residential real estate attorney to help you through the home-buying and mortgage processes?

That depends on how confident you are that title issues, paperwork mistakes and uncooperative sellers won't derail your closing.

You aren't required to pay for a real estate attorney when you are buying a house. But if you do, that attorney will represent you during the entire home-buying process. The attorney will also attend the mortgage closing, reviewing the loan documents you sign to take ownership of your home.

It's understandable that most buyers want to reduce these costs as much as they can. Hiring an attorney to represent them will cost money that buyers don't necessarily want to pay.
But is hiring an attorney worth the extra money for buyers? The answer depends, largely on how willing you are to take the risk that something might go wrong with what might be the most expensive purchase you make.

Not necessary for all transactions?

Not all real estate professionals agree that buyers should always hire a real estate attorney. The title company or attorney represents the lender in the transaction but must be honest and complete in answering questions of the buyer. If a buyer is unhappy with the loan provisions, an attorney representing them may be able to do a better job explaining the provisions. But negotiating something more favorable to the buyer is impossible. 

What does an attorney do for you?

The work that a real estate attorney does for buyers starts much earlier than the closing. The job of the attorney is to analize all the documents and to make the transaction as smooth as possible for the buyers. The language and terms are all foreign to them. 

At closing, this professional's job is to make sure that the loan documents you sign are prepared accurately and properly reflect the fees that you and the seller agreed to pay. Your attorney will also answer any questions you have during the closing and will negotiate on your behalf if last-minute financing problems pop up or if the sellers attempt to make changes with which you don't agree.

Real estate attorneys also study title documents to make sure that other individuals or governmental bodies don't have ownership stakes in the home you want to buy. If the sellers of your home failed to pay all their property taxes, your local government might have a lien against the home. Your attorney will search title documents to make sure that there aren't any unpleasant surprises waiting for you after closing.

An attorney will generally take over after you and the sellers agree on a sales price and each sign a real estate contract. Your real estate agent represents you through the negotiation process until this step happens.