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Is it worth hiring a lawyer when buying a house?
When you purchase a home in Florida, you aren’t legally required to hire a real estate attorney to represent you. However, without one, you don’t have anyone on your team whose sole objective is to protect your interests.
A mortgage lender and real estate agent may help to facilitate a smooth process, but they can’t offer legal counsel. And, at the end of the day, their goal is to make the transaction happen. That’s how they get paid. A real estate lawyer’s job is to protect their client’s interests.
Hiring a lawyer will add to your overall costs when buying a home, but knowing you’re not making any expensive missteps at each stage of the process can be well worth the price. Let’s look at the difference hiring a lawyer can make when buying property.
What does a real estate lawyer do?
An attorney will guide you through every step of the process, from the mortgage agreement to closing. However, the reality is, there’s paperwork to deal with, pressure to move quickly, and every document you sign can have financial consequences of which the average person isn’t aware.
And while you may be able to understand each contract generally, a lawyer will make sure it fully reflects your wishes. They can spot problems that could conflict with your interests now — or years in the future — and recognize what details should be added to ensure your wishes are legally protected.
Mortgage agreements can consist of 20 pages or more of dense legal language, which leaves much room for errors and details that are easy to overlook. Your lawyer can help you understand what you’ll owe, what your payments will be, any consequences of late or missed payments, associated fees, and what happens when you want to refinance or change the agreement.
With professional legal counsel, you can ensure you’re set up to handle any curveballs. For example, if you cannot get appropriate financing, will you lose your down payment? If you want to alter the property, what can you do legally? If hazardous waste, mold, or lead paint is found on the property after purchase, who is responsible for removing it?
Your lawyer will check that all paperwork is signed appropriately. They’ll look over the purchase agreement, explain the details, and amend the document wording to reflect your wishes.
During the title search, they can verify that it’s in a satisfactory state and offer guidance on what to do if there are any issues such as liens or conflicts of interest over who owns the property.
For the all-important closing process, having an attorney at your side is always a good idea. If any last-minute disputes arise, for example, if the buyer wants to change the terms of delivering possession of the property or adjust specific costs, your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf.
Conflicts of interest
At any point, if there is a conflict of interest, your attorney can advise you on the best path to take. These can be issues you want to resolve – for example, if a home inspector discovers that the roof is faulty, you might ask the seller to pay for a new roof. There can also be conflicts concerning how the down payment is released or what protections you have if the seller fails to disclose a lien on the property and holds up the sale.
Any number of unpredictable problems can arise. But, with a lawyer, you always know your rights, what pricing is fair, and what options you have.
Are there some buyers who might not need a lawyer?
Not every buyer needs to hire an attorney. For example, if you’re using a Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, FHA, or USDA financing feature, your loan documents can’t be altered. If your home purchase is straightforward, you don’t have plans to alter the property, and the home has fully passed an independent inspection, you may not need anyone to negotiate on your behalf for the purchase agreement. In these cases, you may only want to hire a lawyer to help with the title search and closing process and look over your contracts before signing.
A lawyer provides more than peace of mind.
Ideally, your home buying experience will go smoothly with zero disputes with the seller, no issues with the property or zoning laws, and a clear title. The reality is, this isn’t a scenario you can count on.
A lawyer offers more than the assurance that you’re not entering a legally binding agreement you’ll later regret. They can be vital in saving money in the long run and preventing you from purchasing the wrong home.If you’re ready to buy your dream home, contact Satel Law PLLC. We can help you navigate the process of purchasing a home in Florida so that you have the peace of mind that comes when your legal and financial interests are protected.