There’s a lot that goes into buying or selling a home. Homebuyers need to think about must-have features, preferred locations, and mortgage options. Sellers want to avoid any potential issues that could delay the sale of their house. Both parties want to find a reputable real estate agent. But if you’re buying or selling a home, do you also need to find a good real estate attorney?
Although a real estate attorney isn’t required in all states to buy a house, obtaining one can be beneficial, especially if there are problems or if difficult issues arise. Here are five reasons when buyers and sellers should think about finding a real estate attorney:
Navigating issues related to COVID-19
As with most other industries, real estate took a hit when the COVID-19 global pandemic went into full effect. And the ongoing health crisis will likely cause continued ripples when it comes to buying and selling homes.
According to a recent Forbes article, “COVID-19 raises many new issues during the home sale process. For example, does the seller need to disclose whether someone in the house had COVID-19 or died from it?”
State laws differ regarding a broker’s obligation to disclose any emotional or psychological reasons that could create the conditions for a stigmatized property. Common stigmas include murder, suicide, paranormal activity, whether the home was used to commit a crime (such as the buying and selling of drugs), and more.
Complicated issues come up.
Of course, it’s helpful to have a real estate attorney when it comes to handling purchase agreements, mortgage documents, title documents, and transfers. However, there are also other issues that could surface during a real estate transaction, such as boundary disputes or petition to quiet.
Here are some other examples:
In New Hampshire, a federal court ruled that a person who helped arrange the sale of a medical business could not collect a commission since he did not have a real estate license.
In Illinois, a person touring a property wanted to inspect the roof and subsequently fell off a ladder, but a court ruled that the real estate firm wasn’t liable for the injuries.
Some of these cases may be extreme, and thankfully they don’t happen every day. But whether you’re customizing a new build, buying a pre-existing home, or selling a house or property, a real estate attorney is equipped to handle the most basic to the most complex real estate, land use, or zoning matters.
Your real estate agent isn’t an attorney.
Your real estate agent has your best interest in mind and knows things like when is the best month to sell a house, but it’s important to remember that an agent is not an attorney. Straightforward real estate transactions typically do not need legal representation (unless required by the state), but sometimes it’s best to reach out for assistance, especially if there are questions or concerns. Attorneys are trained, have the experience, and know-how to navigate complex legal jargon and specific laws.
You may save time and money in the long run.
Yes, a real estate attorney is an added expense, but it can be a worthwhile one. If a legal professional can take care of something quickly, you and your real estate agent are free to handle the next step in the process.
Real estate is more than just buying and selling homes.
There are a lot of other potential issues when it comes to real estate that goes beyond buying and selling, and this is where an experienced real estate attorney can make a big difference. These issues can include:
- Landlord-tenant disputes
- Selective enforcement issues
- Zoning ordinances
- Real estate matters related to business expansion
- Partitioning interests in a property where there are joint or co-owners
No matter what comes up during the real estate process, a real estate attorney can help you navigate the legal waters so that the process goes smoothly for everyone involved.
This article was written by John P. Sherman, Esq. John P. Sherman, Esq. opened his own firm in 2005 after rising through the ranks to become a partner at one of New Hampshire’s largest law firms. Today he applies his deep expertise in personal injury, employment law, construction law, and real estate law to provide strategic counsel to both businesses and individuals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. John holds a J.D. cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law, and has a track record of successfully litigating cases in state and federal courts.