As a real estate attorney, this is a question that we often get asked by our clients who are on the market for a new home.
The answer, of course, is “yes,” but there are many reasons why you should never go through the home-buying process without a real estate attorney to guide you.
In fact, if you don’t want to get stuck making payments on a home that’s not worth what you paid for it and has too many problems to count, you need to retain the services of a real estate attorney on day one of your search for a new home.
Here’s why you should never buy a home without an attorney:
Buying a Home
Buying a home, though a large part of achieving the American Dream, can be a complicated process. Typically, a seller will go through a broker to put the house up for sale. The broker, once a buyer becomes interested, will act as an intermediary between buyer and seller. (What many don’t realize is that the broker only represents the seller’s interests.) From there, the process goes like this:
- First, the seller and buyer agree to informal terms.
- Second, both parties sign a formal, written contract for the sale, also known as the purchase agreement.
- Next, the buyer obtains assurance of financing and searches the title.
- Finally, the buyer takes ownership of the property, and the seller receives the agreed upon price in the closing.
Without an attorney by your side, there are many easy mistakes that you can make as you complete this milestone.
While you might never have seen a purchase agreement before, an experienced real estate attorney has seen hundreds, if not thousands of them. This experience is extremely valuable when it comes time for you to sign the dotted line. In fact, these are just a few of the questions that a real estate attorney can help you answer during this step in the process:
- If any harmful materials, such as radon, asbestos, or lead paint are found during the inspection, what happens next?
- If the seller has altered the property, was it done lawfully? If the changes weren’t lawful, what needs to happen?
- What happens to the down payment if the closing doesn’t take place?
The average person probably can’t answer these questions off the top of his or her head—a real estate attorney can.
Closing on a Home
The final step of purchasing a home is the closing. During this time, ownership of the home passes from seller to buyer, and the agreed upon costs transfer from buyer to seller, of if the buyer obtained a mortgage, from bank to seller. Closing costs can be expensive, so having a legal expert there to explain what each cost is for and why you have to pay it can help you see what you’re paying for, as well as whether those costs are fair. Usually, those present at the closing include the buyer and the seller and their attorneys. If you are the only one there without legal representation, your interests could be at risk.
If you are on the market for a new home in the Miami area, call the real estate attorneys at AM Law. We will help you throughout the home-buying process.