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Courses in this Department

How Ready Are You to Buy a Home?

Determining Your Dream Home and Finding It!

Factory Built Homes Are Worth a Look

Purchase Manufactured Homes with FHA Loan

How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

Pros and Cons of Corner Lots

Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy

Tune in to an Open House on the Radio

Finding a Qualified Broker or Agent

Shopping for a Loan and Choosing a Lender

How to Improve Your Credit

How to Survive the Loan Application Process

Making an Offer and Signing Contracts

Cancel Your Contract in 3 Days

Understanding the Closing/Settlement Process

Choosing Home Inspection and Settlement Professionals

Double Check Your New Home - The Walkthrough

Know Your Consumer Rights

Seniors Have Many Housing Opportunities

Preparing for the Big Day -- Relocating Moving

Make Your Home Your Castle - Cost Effective Redecorating Ideas


Why Use a Real Estate Attorney?

What Good Does It Do?

The Complexity of the Deal
Makes hiring help make sense.

Since real estate deals can be so complex, having an attorney who is on your side can help. While they won't get involved with the actual pricing of the home, they can help you negotiate terms and smooth the process.

No state will require you to hire an attorney. In fact, some states discourage the use of a real estate attorney. They think they clog up the process. But the truth is, sometimes an attorney you hire is the only person who is completely on your side during the settlement. Whether you really need one depends on how familiar you are with the process and how difficult the deal is.

How They Help

Here is a glimpse at just some of the ways real estate attorneys can help you:

  • They act as another layer to remove emotion from the deal

  • They can negotiate the finer details in your contract which can have huge impacts later in the process

  • They can protect you from getting a bad deal should negotiations get nasty

  • They work with brokers to organize and finalize details and terms that you may not understand fully

  • They can explain all the legal ramifications of a deal and help you negotiate a better deal

  • They may be able to get you a reduced fee from the title company

  • They track all the details of the deal to ensure a smooth closing

  • They normally provide a settlement book that contains all the necessary paperwork and documents involved in closing a house

  • They keep the deal together, making sure nothing is overlooked or missed

Cost vs. Value
Price is often just right.

For the money, they can be a great deal. The question is whether to buy by the hour or by a percentage of the loan. There are divided camps on this. Some say a flat rate is best because you know what you are going to pay going in. Others say that hourly is best because it may be more efficient and less expensive. The choice is up to you. Talk to a number of attorneys to see what services they offer and try to determine the best payment structure for your budget. Some will compromise and offer an hourly rate not to exceed a certain amount. This could get you into trouble though, if the cap is reached before settlement.

If you look at the total amount you are spending on the loan, though. Spending some on an attorney who will help protect your interests seems wise.

The Question
What do you owe?

You are going to be asked to pay a lot of money during the settlement process. There are fees for inspections and points and down payments and the mortgage. You need to review your budget and be prepared to make some tough financial decisions. Do you hire an attorney and a home inspector or can you just afford one? Which one is more important to you? The best answer to that question is to look down the road and determine which is going to help the most in the long run.

Are you better off knowing the house you are getting is sound or are you better off getting a good deal that could save you money in the long run? The ideal situation is to be able to hire everyone you need to help ensure a successful deal. Unfortunately, a lot of buyers just don't have the cash for that. Look around and compare prices. Then make up your mind if you need professional help or if you are willing to trust the seller's broker and attorney to help you too.

Important Tip
They aren't everything.

The important thing to remember with a real estate attorney is that they can't do everything. While they can prepare the contract (in your favor) and perform title searches and settlement work, they can't get involved in the price of the house. They can help you negotiate, but they won't suggest a purchase price. They can review language and refine agreements though, which could save you money in the long run. In short, they keep you as their first priority and work to protect your legal rights.

Rules of Hiring

There are some rules to follow if you plan on hiring your own attorney:

First: Always contact your attorney before you sign the contract. Plan ahead. This is where they can really help you.

Second: Make sure they are available at odd hours, because many settlements take place on weekends or at night.

Third: Make sure that if you are paying by the hour that there is a clear schedule of action and that you are always prepared for meetings so they can go quickly.

Fourth: Look for attorneys who work well with brokers. Not all do.

Fifth: Don't choose your attorney on the seller or seller broker's recommendation alone. You want someone who is impartial to the deal and aligned with you. If you are facing a complicated deal, such as one with multiple lenders, get an attorney. The more deviations from the norm, the more you need legal counsel.

Now Let's Look at How to Find One

Helpful hints...

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