Selling Real Estate

Hiring an Attorney

Many states require that an attorney handle the transfer and settlement of real estate. Others do not. If your state doesn't require it, should you hire a lawyer?

A lawyer you hire represents your interests, explains the legal aspects of your real estate contract, translates the technical language in the contract, suggests conditions and contingency clauses that protect you, and advocates on your behalf throughout the process.

Your friends, relatives, coworkers, and bankers may refer you to qualified lawyers specializing in real estate law. Decide on the services you'll need so that you can agree on a fee schedule before you begin. For example:

  • Do you want assistance during the negotiation process?
  • Will the lawyer's involvement begin only at the contract stage?
  • What will the lawyer do for his or her fee?
  • Will he or she just review the contract?
  • Will the lawyer get involved with financing, title searches and title insurance policies?
  • Will he or she be present at the closing?
  • Will you have any extra work you'd like the lawyer to handle?

Fees are usually fairly reasonable and can be well worth the cost if it saves you from making a costly legal error. Never save a little in order to risk a lot. If you decide to seek the help of an attorney, get one involved as soon as possible, but definitely have one involved by the time you accept a bid.

The next phase in the home-selling process is about to begin. You've entered into a legally binding contract to sell real estate; now comes the waiting game. A number of events now occur in preparation for the ultimate transfer of your property to the buyer. The buyer's next move is to secure financing for the purchase. What if they encounter problems? Are you prepared for some of the other pitfalls you may stumble on?
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