The need for hiring legal counsel is obvious in cases of divorce, DUI and criminal proceedings, however few people even consider hiring a lawyer when buying or selling real estate. In an ideal situation, buying or selling a home would be a simple, straightforward process. However, we do not live in an ideal situation and far from being a simple process, due to major legal and regulatory changes in recent years, real estate has become a very complex area of the law. Not only do federal and state laws impact a real estate transaction but you have to take into account municipal and county laws as well. Various issues can potentially arise during the course of any real estate transaction therefore in order to better prepare yourself to handle such issues you should consider consulting a qualified real estate attorney before you signing any papers pertaining to that transaction.
It is however very important to retain an attorney who is specifically experienced with real estate matters and knowledgeable about the specific geographical location of the property. This is especially necessary because each type of real estate transaction is distinct and carries with it a unique set of legal issues. Knowing the details is imperative for a smooth real estate transaction and the importance of details is enhanced if a commercial transaction is taking place. The sale or purchase of commercial property presents a highly complicated and potentially risky set of concerns and requirements than the ones faced in a residential real estate transactions. Searching for viable commercial real estate is an exhaustive task in itself and one the potential buyer has selected a property, they know that they will be foregoing all other opportunities that may arise.
As the details pertaining to any piece of real estate are of such vital importance to businesses, there is an intense period of research and preparation that must be conducted prior to closing a deal. This is a time consuming affair and also takes up a considerable amount of money and resources. If at the end of this period, the other party decides to back out or violates any other terms of the agreement, all that time and money is wasted. An experienced and qualified real estate attorney can assist you every step of the way in working through the deal successfully and be prepared to protect your interests in case things don’t work out. If the other party dishonors a deal then a competent attorney would have made arrangements in advance to ensure that you recover your losses. In such a scenario, the other party pays damages to you. Retaining an experienced commercial real estate attorney is recommended to protect your interests and your finances in a real estate transaction.
It is critical that you and your real estate attorney thoroughly vet a property that you are interested in purchasing prior to purchasing it because it is important to ensure that every detail of the property is in line with your needs and expectations. In order to accomplish this task it is necessary to physically inspect the property and not everybody is qualified to do that. A trained set of eyes is required on-site to detect any problems or issues that may not have been apparent in the title search or a prior survey of the property. A real estate attorney can arrange for trained professionals to conduct such an examination because they can detect the issues that a layman cannot. Another important aspect of any real estate transaction is the process of negotiating the purchase price and all the other complexities and intricacies involved in closing a commercial real estate deal.
Issues such as delivering a title free from encroachments, types of warranties obtained to protect against hidden environmental issues, structural problems that might emerge after the closing among others are issues that almost certainly do arise in any real estate transaction. It is also important to keep in mind that the other party in a transaction most likely will have legal counsel that represents their interests. Therefore it would be foolhardy not to approach such a transaction on equal footing with competent legal representation of your own because only your real estate lawyer can negotiate procedures for what happens if and when the deal fails to close and determine the values of the penalties in the contract in order to protect your interests and minimize your risk. The benefits of hiring a real estate attorney to handle a real estate transaction are numerous. There is typically a reasonable legal fee for any legal services that the real estate attorney renders. In addition to representing your interests and advising you on the legal and practical aspects of your real estate transaction, the attorney also provides other essential services such as:
- Reviewing the contract and other documents
- Negotiating inspection issues
- Monitoring critical dates (E.g. Home inspection and mortgage contingencies)
- Review and clear title
- Prepare conveyance documents
- Attend closing to review and explain all documents to the client
A lot of paperwork is involved in any real estate transaction and the majority of this paperwork including the contract itself contains dense legal terminology that not everyone recognizes. An experienced real estate lawyer can interpret that legal terminology for you and advise you on the best course of action; whether to sign the documents as they are or whether to propose revisions to create terms that are more favorable for you. Your attorney can also advise you regarding other agreements or arrangements that may be appropriate for your particular circumstances. Common examples of such scenarios may include:
- Leases with an exclusive option to purchase the property
- Post-Closing Possession Agreements
- Repair Escrow Agreements, and
- Property Tax Reprobation Agreements.
A real estate lawyer is highly knowledgeable about legislation pertaining to real estate transactions and therefore is better equipped to deal with disputes and problems that arise during the course of a real estate transaction. It is important also to note that real estate lawyers do not work on commission. Typically a real estate attorney will charge an hourly fee for their services. Real estate transactions can be long and convoluted in many cases and hiring a competent and qualified real estate attorney instead of a realtor or an agent ensures that your real estate transaction goes as smoothly as possible.
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