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Seattle, Tacoma, Portland Olympia Attorneys

When Do Homebuyers Need a Real Estate Attorney?

A home is an important investment – not only financially, but also emotionally. Choosing the right place for your family to spend years (even decades) can be a stressful process, and mistakes can have lasting and costly consequences. So, it’s important to enlist as much professional help as you need.

Are the services of a real estate agent sufficient in light of your circumstances, or do you need to hire a real estate attorney? And, if you do need an attorney, at what point in the process should you bring them in? recommends that you employ a real estate attorney if:

  • You are buying a home out of town.
  • You are purchasing a short sale or foreclosed property.
  • The property is part of an estate sale.
  • The property has structural defects or significant renovation requirements.
  • The property is located in a problematic area (like a flood zone).

Attorneys are indeed helpful in these situations. However, in today’s market (where million-dollar price tags are commonplace), it’s better to leave nothing to chance, even in seemingly straightforward transactions. A real estate lawyer will ensure your peace of mind throughout the homebuying process, so it’s generally a good idea to hire one as soon as you can once you’ve decided to purchase a property.

Real Estate Lawyers and Home Buying: Timing Is Essential

After a homebuying agreement has been officially executed, there is much less that an attorney can do to remedy any problems, assuming they weren’t addressed in the purchase contract. So, it’s generally preferable to engage a real estate attorney well before the contract is signed. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on the precautions you should take when drafting the contract to ensure you’ll be protected if anything goes wrong.

Only real estate attorneys can make effective judgments on legal matters. Remember that your real estate agent wants to close the deal, while an attorney’s goal is to represent your best interests and protect you from potential pitfalls in the homebuying process.

The Various Functions of Real Estate Attorneys When You’re Buying a Home

Buying property is a lengthy, multifaceted task. If you hire a real estate attorney, they’ll be able to assist you with many aspects of the process.

Title Searches

A title search is a detailed examination of the deeds, court records, property and name indexes, and other documents related to your property. By conducting one of these searches, your attorney will be able to ensure there are no liens or tax liabilities tied to your property. If you buy a home with this kind of financial obligation attached to it, you may end up having to pay it out of your own pocket. Title searches may also provide important information about easements, property defects, and ownership issues that might affect your property rights.

Filing Documents

Your lawyer will be able to assist with the drafting and filing of every important document related to the transaction, including the purchase agreement, deed, and transfer of title. They will also be able to file these documents officially in accordance with state government requirements.

Additionally, if you’re borrowing money to finance the purchase of your home, your attorney will be able to assist you with the paperwork requirements on your lender’s part, including transfer of funds documentation and a federal HUD-1 form.

Seller Interactions

Property transactions don’t always progress smoothly. In the event your seller starts dragging their feet, or attempting to find a better offer from another buyer, your lawyer can file a legal action known as a “lis pendens” to accelerate the process or block other potential buyers.

Providing Professional Connections

Your lawyer will be able to connect you with other professionals whose services you’ll need during the real estate process. These might include home inspectors, mortgage lenders, and title companies.

Working With Lenders

If issues arise between you and your mortgage lender, your attorney may be able to deal with them on your behalf. Your attorney will also be able to review the terms of your mortgage agreement to ensure that it’s fair and that it protects your interests.

Closing the Sale

When it comes to finalizing the details of your transaction, various issues may arise and delay the process. Your lawyer can help you minimize the risk of this happening by reviewing all documents and transaction records and liaising with all involved parties to ensure there are no last-minute complications.

Representation in Litigation

As real estate attorneys, we do more than just represent homebuyers during property transactions. We can also represent you in any legal dispute you get into related to your property.

Say, for example, you discover a major defect in your property after you move in. You believe the previous owner should be legally liable to compensate you for the costs arising from the issue, but they refuse to accept responsibility.

Or your neighbor states the boundary between your properties is not the same as what’s specified in your records and lays claim to a portion of the property you’ve paid for.

In situations like these, litigation may be the only way to get what you need. Your lawyer will be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf and collect the evidence required to build the strongest possible case in your favor.

It may be possible to reach a compromise that both parties accept during the pre-trial negotiation process. This tends to be a quicker and more convenient route to a resolution. In some cases, however, it proves impossible to find common ground. If that happens to you, we won’t hesitate to go to court to fight for the outcome you need.

If you’re curious about whether real estate litigation might work in your situation, you should consider speaking to a lawyer.

Homebuyers: Protect Yourselves by Hiring an Experienced Attorney

The attorneys of Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess have over 40 years’ combined experience working with home buyers in the Seattle market. We pride ourselves on providing quality, cost-effective legal services and excellent customer care.

Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess is here to help. Call us today at (206) 621-1110 (Seattle), (253) 572-1000 (Tacoma), (360) 742-3500 (Olympia), or (971) 416-0881 (Portland) to schedule a consultation. You can also reach us via our online contact form.