Depending on whom you ask, the answers to this question will range from “You never need a lawyer in a residential real estate transaction” to “You should always have a lawyer in any kind of real estate transaction.” Frequently, real estate brokers will tell you lawyers “fly speck” a deal, looking for problems to justify their fees. In some cases, they may be right. However, real estate brokers and agents, mortgage brokers, and title insurance agents (whether they are attorneys or independent title companies) all have a financial stake in the closing; if the closing does not take place, they do not get paid.
In answering this question for yourself, you should remember that a lawyer with no role in the transaction other than to represent you is the only real estate professional who does not have a financial stake in whether or not the closing takes place. You pay the lawyer for advice and representation, and the lawyer’s duty is to protect you, help you solve problems, and prevent as many future problems as possible. If you want unbiased advice, you should hire a lawyer to give it to you.
In addition, there are some red flags that indicate you need to hire a lawyer to represent you:
- If you feel bullied or intimidated in negotiating with the seller or real estate sales agent, you should engage a lawyer to act as your “hired gun” in the negotiations.
- If there are any provisions in the real estate contract that you do not understand or do not agree with, you should hire a lawyer to review the contract for you. You should take the contract to the lawyer to review before you sign it.
- At any time in the process, if someone asks you to do something that does not seem right to you or that you do not understand, you should put the transaction on hold and consult with a lawyer before proceeding.
If you have a question regarding a real estate transaction, email Marshall Deason at email@example.com to schedule a complimentary 1-hour consultation.