What Value Does a Real Estate Lawyer Bring to a Transaction?

A home purchase is the biggest expenditure in a consumer’s life.   Peace of mind is on the line in a real estate transaction.  A real estate attorney is, of course, another cost to add into the process of buying a home. But this trusted person can advocate for you, advise you, and alleviate your fears.  More importantly, the attorney can take away some of your headache to allow you to enjoy the process of purchasing one of the most important investments of your life.

But how exactly does one do this? An attorney adds value as follows:

A Buyer typically engages multiple professionals and entities

Including a real estate agent, a home inspector, a licensed mortgage professional, and, further downstream, an appraisal, home insurance, title exam, and a surveyor. The countless calls with realtors and loan officers, and the discussions with your insurance agency all require a great deal of time, energy and patience. A real estate lawyer can help consolidate these different entities involved in real estate transactions, and ensure that you stay on top of all moving pieces. The attorney will also be present for the closing and can speak to any issues that come up last-minute. The attorney is a knowledgeable resource to add to your arsenal, and will help shepherd you through any concerns, vague contracts, or complicated scenarios.

In many states an attorney is required to close the transaction.

In Massachusetts (where I practice) for example, most Buyers typically retain an attorney to review the Purchase and Sale Agreement, review condominium documents (if applicable), and advocate for the Buyer in any disputes.  The attorney often will discount the P&S review fee if they are handling the closing.  It is not a conflict for the attorney to handle both the Buyer representation and serve as the closing counsel for the lender since the interests are simultaneous.

Consider: are you well-versed in reading and approving contracts? Specifically, real estate contracts?

If it’s not something you do on a regular basis, the legalese, provisions, and countless amendments may quickly become confusing and, in some cases, intentionally misleading. A real estate attorney will read everything over for you and will ensure that any vague clauses are clarified, and any clear rules are understood by you (before you make this or that mistake).

Think about doing your taxes. Can you do it yourself with a web application? Yes. Is there a strong possibility that you’ll make a mistake or miss a potential refund something simply because this is not your bread and butter? Definitely. In buying a home, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and make sure the person that’s reading YOUR contract knows what they’re doing!

If you want to make amendments or complete a contingency purchase (like a purchase and sale, or P&S, agreement), your transactions will be more complicated.

Contingency purchases and amendments are incredibly common, and also quite tricky to manage. If you’re not familiar with drafting or reviewing amendments or P&S agreements, it may be worth having someone on your side that can ensure you’re agreeing to exactly what you intended to agree to.

For example, perhaps you want to ensure that your sale goes through before you move into your new home, or perhaps you want to add an amendment that states that the current owner must repair the roof at cost before your move in date. Though it seems simple enough, these amendments can quickly get complicated with jargon, provisions and unforeseen delays. Having an attorney that can advocate for you and respond to questions on your behalf will help relieve stress, and ensure a more seamless process.

Marc Canner

Marc Canner is a Massachusetts real estate attorney with over fifteen years of experience in the industry. Marc works with buyers and sellers of real estate, as well as mortgage lenders, banks and realtors to conduct real estate closings. Marc is adept at managing the “deal flow” of a transaction to provide clients with concise strategy and advise.  Marc is the founder of Canner Law & Associates, P.C., a firm whose back-end operations create a boutique office structure to conduct real estate closings in an efficient and professional manner. He also regularly speaks to real estate groups, sharing his insights on the use of technology in the field. Marc received his J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law and is a member of the Massachusetts Real Estate Bar Association. 


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