Hiring A Real Estate Attorney: Buy or Sell Property with Confidence

Whether you’re buying or selling, hiring a real estate attorney will ensure your interests are protected.

A real estate attorney will review documents, oversee transactions, and help resolve disputes.

Hiring a real estate attorney banner with house illustration

Even if you feel comfortable with your real estate agent, it’s important that you pay attention to the details in the contract, evaluate the property, and make sure you’re protected. Hiring a real estate attorney to help you with this will ensure your interests are protected.

Today, we’re exploring the benefits of hiring a real estate lawyer so you can make the best decision when buying a house.

Let’s get started …

Hiring A Real Estate Attorney

California real estate law provides protections for people buying and selling real estate, but it’s still a smart idea to get a second opinion to ensure your interests are protected.

Even if you’re working with a reputable real estate agent, you need someone with an unbiased perspective in your corner.

Look …

There are plenty of honest real estate agents working throughout Los Angeles, but it’s important to understand they receive a commission for every transaction they close. This financial motivation can sometimes negatively impact your interests.

There’s a simple solution …

You need to hire a real estate attorney.

Unlike real estate agents, attorneys don’t have a personal interest in the outcome of your transaction other than making sure you are protected.

Reviewing the Contract and Making Modifications

California real estate contracts normally contain an attorney review period clause allowing time for your attorney to review the contract, even after you have signed it.

These contracts contain legal language that a real estate broker may not understand. It is important for you to have an attorney review the contract language and explain to you anything relevant and important to your particular situation.

This gives you the opportunity to make modifications if necessary.

For example, the property to be purchased may be or contain illegal structures.

It may contain hazardous material like asbestos or lead. It may have hidden dangers like termites or dry rot. Any needed inspections and purchase contingencies should be spelled out for your protection. If you do run into an issue, you should know your obligations as well as rights to back out of the contract.

Interfacing With Attorneys, Brokers, and Mortgage Loan Officer

Your attorney works with the other party’s attorney, the real estate brokers, and the mortgage loan officer on a variety of documents and schedules to make sure you are in compliance with any regulations and will meet any required time limits.

The documents may include property deed, mortgage loan documents, closing documents, legal descriptions, title and title insurance policy. Any errors or missing information can result in huge processing delays.

Schedules need to be set for review and approval of such items as home inspections, title search, mortgage commitment, attorney review, and other contingencies.

Once a real estate transaction is closed, it is difficult to make changes.

So, doing it right the first time is very important. Complex documents can be a real challenge. Your attorney will review the financial statement to make sure you are being charged the amount you agreed to, or appropriate credits have been arranged.

Most California real estate is sold using a standard form, with preprinted sales contracts written by, or approved by, the local Realtor Association. Most of them also provide for the attorney review period that allows you, on the advice of your attorney, to get out of the contract even after you signed it.

Your Real Estate Lawyer Is On Your Team

As mentioned above, real estate agents and brokers are not lawyers.

It is true that they have a fiduciary responsibility to serve your best interests to their abilities. But that doesn’t mean they will think of every possible situation or are immune to mistakes.

Situations arise all the time like negligence, breach of contract, non-disclosure, fraud, and misrepresentation, any of which can be very costly to your business and/or reputation and affect future business transactions as well.

Hiring a real estate attorney will ensure you are protected.

If you are buying or leasing a business property, you need to understand commercial requirements for those actions and the consequences for breach of contract in that environment.

If you are building a new house, you are dealing with construction issues like defects or mechanic liens or contractor delays or safety issues. There are zoning laws and permits, environmental agencies, cities, counties, wetlands, abutting property owners, and more.

There are also local variances and exceptions, special use permits, common interest communities, and local covenants and restrictions. Is your real estate agent familiar with all these?

A non-standard, builder contract can be a problem itself. What exactly is specified and how is it specified? How are items priced? What are any assumptions? What if you have a dispute with your contractor? Will the builder allow you to preview terms and conditions before signing? If not, make sure there is an attorney review clause and period for your attorney so you can back out if there is any issue raised by that attorney.

A good real estate attorney will be aware of all these issues and potential problems and will make the necessary preemptive actions to clear all hurdles for your purchase.

Finding the Right Attorney

Where do you start?

When hiring a real estate attorney, ask how long he or she has been practicing. Find out how much real-world experience he has in real estate. If you are dealing with something complex like real-estate development, you should look for someone with eight to 15 years’ experience.

Ask how many cases like yours he has handled. If he has had similar cases, he will know what to look out for and can advise you accordingly. He won’t have to put in more time learning the intricacies of your type of real estate.

Ask the attorney how he would handle your case. If he provides a general response like he will handle everything, be suspicious. A seasoned attorney can outline what he would do for you including the filing of certain documents and the closing.

Looking for a real estate attorney in San Fernando Valley?

We can help!

Get up to 30 minutes of free consultation with a real estate attorney in San Fernando Valley through the SFVBA Attorney Referral Service – Click here to learn more.

 

19 replies
  1. Ashley Turns says:

    Since my husband and I are planning on buying our first piece of property, we are wondering how to find the best real estate law service to help us through the process. So I like your advice to find an attorney who has handled cases like ours in the past since they’ll know exactly what to look for. We will definitely have to start our search for a real estate law service by focusing on those that have dealt with a lot of cases like ours in the past.

    Reply
    • SFVB Attorney Referral Service says:

      Ashley,

      Sounds like a smart plan. If you need help finding a real estate attorney with experience in the area, let us know and we’ll introduce you to one from our network. Fill out this form to get started → /referral-form/

      Reply
  2. Celestia Stratheimer says:

    It was great that I came across this article because I really do need to find a real estate lawyer for my home buying process, but I do not know how to find one. You said here that in searching for a real estate lawyer, one of the things that I need to consider is their experience and whether or not they have handled cases similar to mine as that will ensure that they know the right approach to make the case successful. In that case, I will be sure to hire a lawyer who has experienced settling a dispute regarding a house that has no clear owner. Thank you.

    Reply
    • SFVB Attorney Referral Service says:

      Celestia,

      That sounds like a tough legal situation. If you need help from an experienced real estate attorney in Los Angeles, let us know and we’ll introduce you to one from our network.

      Just fill out this form and we’ll take it from there → /referral-form/

      Reply
  3. Jenna Hunter says:

    I like you how suggest to look for someone with at least 8 years of experience. My family is looking for a lawyer after our construction site was damaged. As we are researching, we can ask them about their previous cases to see if they’ll be helpful with our problem.

    Reply
    • SFVB Attorney Referral Service says:

      Jenna,

      We always recommend hiring a real estate attorney who has a few years of experience working in your area. This ensures they understand the area, including any specific laws.

      We’re sorry to hear about your family’s construction site.

      If you need help finding a lawyer in Los Angeles, tell us a little about the situation and we’ll introduce you to an experienced real estate attorney near you. Celestia,

      That sounds like a tough legal situation. If you need help from an experienced real estate attorney in Los Angeles, let us know and we’ll introduce you to one from our network.

      Click here to get started → /referral-form/

      Reply
  4. Ellie Davis says:

    I didn’t know that when you are hiring a real estate attorney you are helping to ensure you are protected while buying a home. My husband and I are wanting to move into a new home before we have our first child in about four months. I think a real estate attorney is something I am going to have to consider this process.

    Reply
  5. Ashley Maxwell says:

    I really appreciate your tip to hire a real estate lawyer that has your best interests in mind. It’s also nice how you said that they should protect you no matter the outcome of the case. My husband and I are looking into compensation, real estate lawyers for our good friend; thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • SFVB Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Ashley,

      Thank you for reading! It’s always nice having a professional in your corner!

      Reply
  6. Elsa Anderson says:

    I like the fact that hiring a real estate lawyer can protect your interests from selling a property, especially if you have a real estate broker who is also up to get his commissions after a sale has been closed. I have just chosen a real estate agent who will sell my house and all our conversations and agreements are verbal. I think hiring an attorney in this case will make sure that all bases are covered and our conditions will be fair and just for me. I’d better start looking around for one so I can get the right amount of money that I should earn from selling my big house.

    Reply
    • Attorney Referral Service of San Fernando Valley says:

      Thanks for sharing, Elsa.

      It sounds like you’re on your way! We strongly encourage people to explore this option, as it ensures your best interests are represented.

      Whether you’re a real estate investor, lender, realtor, or first-time home buyer, a real estate attorney will help ensure you don’t miss any details that could hurt you later.

      Reply
  7. Bella says:

    It is a completely new thing for me. I never hired a lawyer for property purpose. But yes, I have faced so many problems with an agent. Because we have no time to find a good property because of having a busy schedule. So we have to depend on them. But I would like to try this way.

    Reply
    • Attorney Referral Service of San Fernando Valley says:

      Hi Bella,

      You’re right – there are quite a few problems that can surface when buying or selling real estate, so it’s a good idea to hire a real estate attorney for help. There’s just so much that happens in a short period of time when it comes to real estate transactions … if you’re not careful, you may miss something that could cause problems later.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  8. Candice Eisenhower says:

    I like the idea of hiring a real estate attorney in making sure that your personal interests are put to priority by reviewing the real estate contract before he lets you sign them. Doing so will give you a full understanding of the agreement that you’re about to agree on while presenting the possible issues that may arise out of it. My mom is looking to buy a second home and being a critique herself, she wants to make sure that all possible angles have been looked into before making a decision. It’ll be best to advice her to hire a real estate attorney to review agreements and setup in buying a home before shelling out some money. Doing so will spare her from possible regrets and missed opportunities that would’ve been reviewed if only she had a professional to advise her.

    Reply
  9. Joy Butler says:

    Thanks for helping me understand the importance of hiring a real estate attorney. My brother needs to see this post since he is planning to buy a new residential property. He has a limited knowledge on this and should be properly guided. Cheers!

    Reply
  10. Steele Honda says:

    Thanks for pointing out that when buying or selling property it is important for you to have an attorney review the contract language and explain to you anything relevant and important to your particular situation. My husband and I are thinking about selling our house and I think it would be smart to hire a property lawyer that could help us with the process. I think that it would be nice that they could help us decipher the contracts and I think it would just make the whole experience less stressful.

    Reply

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