Do you need a real estate attorney?
You're buying a home. You're already dealing with real estate
agents, bankers and possibly a title company. Do you need to hire a real estate
It all comes down to your comfort
level. Ask: Who's watching out for your interests? Do they have
any incentive to talk you into something that might not be right
for you? Do they understand the finer points of exactly what you
need from the deal?
"Never sign anything you don't understand
and feel 100 percent comfortable with," says Robert Shemin, attorney, real
estate investor and author of "40 Days to Success in Real Estate Investing."
The one paragraph you can't wrap your mind around is certain to be "the one
paragraph that gets you in trouble," he says.
people, their home is their biggest purchase. They sign mountains of paperwork
for both the loan and the property itself. In a good number of cases, they don't
have their own attorney and everything goes smoothly.
times, an attorney's fee more than pays for itself.
of weeks after Bryan Sklar purchased an investment home, he got a notice from
the county that the property had unpaid taxes. He had a few days to pay up or
forfeit. His lawyer swung into action. "He paid it for me and sued the previous
owner," Sklar says. "It was worth having an attorney."
has purchased five investment homes, using an attorney every time. He also has
his own broker. "You've got to have a good support team," he says. "I've
got a real estate agent I've done all my transactions through, even though it
cost a bit more. And I've got an attorney I know and trust."
it comes to the legal end of things, "you need somebody on your side in case
something goes wrong," Sklar says.
you sign anything
Start with the sales contract. "If you don't
understand everything in that contract easily, then you need a professional to
represent you," says Shemin. "I would recommend either a very good real
estate agent or your own real estate attorney."
One tip the pros have learned: Don't be afraid to
ask for help. Shemin has bought and sold hundreds of properties.
But one recent California purchase generated "the largest and
most complicated contracts," he says. "I spent an hour
and a half with a real estate agent" going through each paragraph,
"I had a professional agent who had done hundreds of closing
in California," he says. But if "at any time I felt uncomfortable or
didn't understand anything, I would have picked up the phone and hired an attorney."
an attorney can be a good backstop for a real estate agent, says Charles J. Jacobus,
a Texas attorney and the author of "Real Estate Principles." If the
sellers are "either unreasonable in their request or requesting something
out of the ordinary," that's a good time to call on counsel, he says. "And
that's usually coupled with the fact that your broker doesn't know what to do