Am I Required To Hire A Real Estate Lawyer To Sell My House?

Am I Required To Hire A Real Estate Lawyer To Sell My House?

A real estate lawyer is not required when selling your home unless you are selling in a state that requires one.

However, in certain circumstances, such as if you are selling your home by owner or dealing with unique property issues it may be in your best interests to hire a realty lawyer.

when you’re buying a single-family home in a straightforward transaction, a real estate agent can usually handle the sale on their own.

A local agent who is experienced will be familiar with the laws and regulations in your area and be able to advise you about potential issues that might arise. You can always reach out to a real estate lawyer if you have any questions during the sale process.

When is the best time to hire a lawyer?

You need a real estate lawyer if you’re selling in a state where it’s required by law.

Although each state may require sellers to hire a lawyer, the end goal for all is the protection of the integrity and sale of homes in the state.

You should always consult your agent about changes in real estate laws. They will let you know if your state requires a real estate lawyer at any time during the sale.

Am I Required To Hire A Real Estate Lawyer To Sell My House?

These states require that you use a real estate lawyer:

  • North Dakota
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • West Virginia
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Mississippi
  • Kansas
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Indiana
  • Washington
  • Alabama

You should always consult your agent about changes in real estate laws. They will let you know if your state requires a real estate lawyer at any time during the sale.

What is a real-estate lawyer?

Real estate lawyers assist property sellers and buyers in navigating real estate transactions and helping to ensure that they meet all legal requirements.

Although a real estate attorney may have experience in contract law, that does not make them qualified to act as an agent. Agents are licensed by the state they live in. An attorney can serve as a support for your real estate agent.

An attorney may not negotiate the price or terms of a sale but they can advise you about any underlying legal issues. For example, real estate lawyers can:

  • Identify potential issues in contracts that contain contingencies
  • We can help you determine the best way to approach complicated legal issues such as splitting the proceeds of a divorce or selling a house with a deceased owner.
  • Find loopholes in purchase agreements and get advice on how to close them
  • Examine buyers’ offers to identify legal red flags. This includes potential legal issues longer-term if you sign a sloppy or incomplete purchase agreement.

Real estate attorneys also play a key role in closing, reviewing documents, and addressing any unexpected issues.

Should I hire a real estate attorney if I don’t legally need one?

If you have any of these conditions, even if it is not required by your state, you might want to hire a real estate lawyer to help you sell your property.

  • You are selling FSBO
  • Are you going through a divorce or separation
  • If you are selling your home and actively renting
  • Your property is unique
  • A property that you inherit from a deceased owner is being sold.
  • Property is being sold in poor condition
  • A short sale or foreclosure
  • You are selling commercial real property
  • Your Spidey sense acts up

You are selling FSBO

You can put your house up for sale by owner (FSBO) without the assistance of a real estate agent.for sale by owner

Unless you are an experienced seller, it is worth hiring an attorney to deal with the paperwork involved in selling FSBO. This includes the purchase agreement. The attorney will ensure that you adhere to all laws in your state and any other complexities of a home sale.

Find a real estate lawyer who can help you with:

  • Closing
  • Contingencies
  • Inspections
  • Title issues

You are selling a house you are actively renting

A real estate lawyer will help you understand your rights and those of your tenants and protect you against litigation.

If you have family members living in your house, this is important as you must give them sufficient notice before you sell.

A foreclosure or short sale

Whether you’re selling a house for less than you owe on your mortgage, aka a short sale, or your lender has foreclosed on your home and is forcing a sale, you can benefit from a real estate attorney who specializes in financially-distressed properties.

It is important to negotiate the best terms possible with your lender. In either case, an attorney can help you.

You’re selling commercial real estate

Find an attorney who is familiar with commercial real estate law and can advocate in your best interests.

Selling commercial real estate is often more complex and risky than selling a single-family house. These transactions also often involve higher costs.

A real estate attorney will help you navigate the often complex and potentially risky transactions that can involve:

  • Multi-income streams such as rental properties
  • Navigating zoning laws
  • Understanding environmental laws

Your Spidey sense acts up

Have you ever felt bad about a part of a house sale? Perhaps you should consult an attorney. A real estate attorney can help you with a transaction, even though it may cost more, it may be worth it.

A real estate agent with extensive experience dealing with similar issues is another way to tackle these challenges. For example, many realtors are experts in helping you transition out tenants or with foreclosures. They will also let you know when an attorney is needed.

Is it worth hiring a real estate attorney?

The value of a real estate lawyer depends on your situation and needs.

Unlike a personal injury attorney, a real estate attorney does not have a financial stake in selling property. They are paid a flat fee regardless of the sales price of the home. This allows them to provide peace of mind for outsiders. That can be a big benefit to some people.

A lawyer can also help sellers navigate legal issues and prevent them from becoming involved in future litigation.

However, a real-estate attorney’s value depends on what they can do for you. This includes whether one real estate agent can meet your needs or if you need both. Let’s dive deeper.

What are the differences between real estate attorneys and real estate agents?

What are the differences between real estate attorneys and real estate agents?

A real estate attorney does not have an in-depth knowledge of the local market, and cannot advise you on its nuances. They won’t be able to help you determine a price or negotiate with buyers to get the best price for your house.

A great agent can provide a shield against common legal threats due to their real estate experience and knowledge of home sales. However, they cannot be considered a legal advisor. Agents are prohibited from giving legal advice in many states. 

Real estate lawyers have the experience and training to handle a variety of complex issues. This includes reviewing documents and representing your interests at closing.

Their payment structures are another major difference. Most real estate attorneys work for an hourly rate, either with a retainer that is billed upfront or a flat fee. The commission that real estate agents receive is split between the listing agent and buyer’s agents. 

If you are a priority, this commission could encourage an agent to sell as quickly as possible.

A real estate agent can also offer other benefits. A real estate agent can provide a listening ear, gentle advice, and general emotional support. A home sale can cause stress and a good agent will be able to calm down their clients.

How can I find a real estate attorney?

A good real estate agent can refer you to a real estate attorney. You can also search the American Bar Association, FindLaw, or other professional associations like your state’s bar association for real estate lawyers.

As you’re evaluating agent-recommended real estate lawyers or searching on your own, keep in mind an attorney should at least:

  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of state and local real estate laws.
  • In case of emergency, be available immediately (or an experienced member of their team)
  • Instead of focusing on winning millions in court, focus on finding ways to cooperate with others to protect your rights.
  • You have a lot of experience in similar situations. If you need to deal with trust issues, consult a probate lawyer.

It is important to inquire about the costs of your services, such as whether you will pay per hour or a flat rate.

Am I Required To Hire A Real Estate Lawyer To Sell My House?