Congratulations! You've found the home of your dreams. You might think it's unnecessary to hire a lawyer to sit with you at the closing table when you buy a home. Most states don't require that you use one. Closing is the last step in the process, so why spend the extra money?
The fact is, for most people buying a house is the largest purchase they will ever make. When you are signing your name to a transaction that may affect you for years to come, hiring a lawyer now might save you a lot of headaches later. A lawyer's help can be valuable throughout the process.
A Lawyer Understands Legalese
When you make an offer on a home, your real estate agent assists you through the negotiation process. When you strike a deal, whether you're the buyer or the seller, the agent will draw up a contract for sale. When you sign it, you lock yourself into the deal. Lawyers are experts in contracts.
If there's any language included in the contract that you don't fully understand, you need a real estate lawyer. A lawyer not only explains what you're signing but also tells you if it's in your best interests to do so. A lawyer can suggest changes to the standard contract.
A Lawyer Will Research a Home's Title
Someone has to make sure that the home you are buying is free and clear of liens. Any liens against the property transfer to you after you purchase it. You might think this is what you are paying a title company to do - to make sure the home has clear title.
But lawyers usually do more to protect your interests. They'll look for things like third parties' rights to use a portion of your property. A utility company, for example, might have buried a power line in your back yard or have an easement allowing it to do so in the future. You could never put a pool there.
Some Lenders Require a Lawyer at Closing
If you don't hire a lawyer, much of the work involved in buying a home falls to the title company. Some title companies won't accept that responsibility and require that you hire a lawyer. Some mortgage companies won't let you attend closing without counsel, either.
You Need Someone on Your Side
Not everyone involved in the purchase or sale of your home is on your side. Your real estate agent wants the deal to go through because that's how real estate agents get paid. The seller's real estate agent feels the same way. If something occurs at closing that you are not comfortable with, the various professionals will likely urge you to sign the deal anyway.
You can be sure your lawyer will not. Your lawyer will straighten out the problem or protect you from making a commitment that might cause you problems later.
A Real Estate Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding residential real estate is complicated and the financial commitment is large. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a real estate lawyer.