Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer?
What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
A lawyer can perform several services to ensure property ownership transfers property from one party to another. Common tasks include:
- Reviewing the property's history to determine whether the current owner actually owns the title and has the right to sell it.
- Searching for liens that would prevent the owner from selling the property.
- Reading contracts to make sure you understand every aspect of the deal.
- Representing you when the property owner doesn't want to follow a signed contract.
The roles played by real estate attorneys matter so much that some places require you to hire one before buying or selling property.
What Happens When You Don't Hire a Lawyer?
Assuming that a lawyer's involvement isn't required (which can vary by state and situation), ideally, nothing negative will happen if you don't hire a lawyer.
Many transactions can proceed smoothly without one. But sometimes, if there are complicated interests involved, it can help protect you throughout the transaction.
Title insurance helps protect you from losing ownership of the real estate you buy. Realistically, though, it's better to avoid the situation entirely. Let the current owners sort through the problem in court. You can always look for a home that doesn't require so much effort to purchase.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
There isn't a fixed price for hiring a real estate lawyer. You can expect to pay about $150 to $200 per hour. If the deal happens quickly, the lawyer might only spend a couple of hours reviewing your documents. A more complicated situation will mean you are spending more money on legal services.
Other closing costs you should consider include:
- Title insurance
- Appraisal fees
- Home inspections
- PMI (private mortgage insurance) and other forms of insurance
- Broker fees
- Application fees
- Prepaid interest
The buyer usually pays most of the closing costs. You can, however, request concessions to help cover closing costs in your offer on a home.
Closing costs usually equal 2% to 6% of the property's sale price.