If you’re out looking to buy or sell property, you already know. The market is hot for real estate transactions. Meanwhile, you should also be aware of something else. Retaining a seasoned real estate attorney is critical.
Just about every realtor will tell you that the number of homes for sale is actually limited this spring. By the same token, prices are up. There are also indications that mortgage rates may rise. Of course, timing is everything. However, that doesn’t mean foolishly rushing into buying or selling a house.
Truth be told, you can easily comb the internet for stories of real estate transactions gone bad. In some cases, the buyer or seller decided to represent themselves. In others, they opted to use a title company to close the deal.
One problem. Just about every closing agent from a title company will provide you with necessary information. He or she is not authorized to give legal advice concerning your real estate transaction. The same is true for the real estate agent who prepares your sales contract. In most cases, they are using a standard form.
The Role of the Real Estate Attorney
More often than not, the role of the real estate attorney begins when both the buyer and seller sign the sales contract. As mandated by NJAC 11:5-6.2(g)(2), real estate contracts are subject to a three business day attorney review. In some circumstances, this time period may be extended by mutual consent of the parties.
An overanxious buyer or seller may think the present terms of the contract cover them. After all, what could go wrong with a form realtors prepare and use for all their transactions? A seasoned real estate attorney can quickly enlighten you.
For one, you’ll want to know exactly what is included in the sale. Just because the seller verbally promises to leave behind appliances doesn’t make it a deal. There’s also the issue of the type of deed, contingencies, and inspections.
More than likely, your next step will be to secure a mortgage. While you’re working on submitting your financials to a lender, your real estate attorney will be coordinating efforts behind the scenes. Here are some of the tasks associated with buying and selling property:
- Ordering and reviewing title searches
- Reviewing zoning laws
- Dealing with issues that come up as property liens
- Preparing and reviewing the deed
- Suggesting home inspections
- Recommending sweeps for oil tanks
- Obtaining information from homeowner associations
- Representing buyers and sellers at the closing table
Of course, every real estate transaction is different. When you retain a seasoned real estate attorney, you should have assurances that your lawyer will protect you before you even make it to the closing table.
Selecting a Real Estate Attorney
The New Jersey State Bar Association frowns on lawyers setting themselves out as experts in any particular practice area. However, experience often translates into familiarity. What kinds of questions should you ask of a real estate attorney if you weren’t personally referred? Here are some suggestions:
- How long have you been in practice?
- About how many closings have you handled?
- Do you primarily represent buyers or sellers?
Of course, you’ll also want to know what the law firm plans to charge for representation. For the most part, lawyers charge a different flat rate fee for buyers and sellers.
Are you purchasing or selling real estate and need legal representation? Contact the Law Offices of Lawrence M. Centanni to see how we can assist you.