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What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

If you’re in the middle of buying or selling a home or business property, wading through a sizable and rapidly expanding mess of financial costs, and facing the question of whether you might need legal help, you may well be asking yourself, “What does a real estate attorney do?”

Real estate litigation and transactions are complex beasts, and the price for making a mistake when dealing with them can be very high indeed. While you may be tempted to make savings wherever possible during an expensive real estate transaction, it’s important to remember that skimping on expert advice can end up costing you more money than it could ever have saved.

When you’re executing purchases, inspections, appraisals, and other functions, you’ll need legal assistance to review all the fine print and verify that everything is in order. If you work with a non-legal agent, you may not have any recourse if the transaction goes wrong.

Real estate attorneys are professionals who can actually draft and revise legal documents, unlike real estate agents.

A rule of thumb is that if you or your real estate agent cannot easily understand the contract governing the property transaction you’re involved in, you should consult with a real estate attorney. You should also be aware that your mortgage lender or insurance company may require you to use a lawyer during some types of transactions, depending on company policy.

What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do? Our Functions Explained.

So, when do you need a real estate attorney? You might imagine it would only be necessary in specific cases, such as when a dispute or contract issue arises, or if you’re dealing with a corporate real estate transaction. However, the average property sale presents more potential pitfalls than you might imagine, and a lawyer can help you navigate all of them, so it’s almost always a good idea to at least consult with one during the transaction process.

In this section, we discuss our various functions in more detail.

Handling Documents

The purchase or sale of a piece of property will require you to deal with a mountain of documents, including:

  • Title deeds
  • Purchase agreements
  • Mortgage documents
  • Land use variances
  • Transfer documents
  • Home inspection reports
  • Disclosure forms
  • Easement agreements
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) documents
  • Power of attorney documents
  • Lease agreements (if the property for sale has existing tenants who will remain in place following the transfer).

Managing all of these by yourself would be a complex and time-consuming ordeal. Your lawyer will be able to take care of a lot of this for you; in a lot of cases, they’ll be able to do all the drafting, so that you can just add your signature and get on with other tasks.

Remember, your failure to submit documents properly and on time may result in delays in your property transaction and filing fees.

Researching Transaction Details

When you purchase a property, you can sometimes be taking on more than the bricks and mortar you see in front of you. If there are unpaid loans on the property, liens on it, or litigation against its previous owner, it’s much better for you to learn the details of them before you sign on the dotted line.

Real estate attorneys know how to conduct the proper research into issues like these and ensure you don’t end up getting any nasty surprises once it’s too late.

Interacting With the Authorities

Real estate transactions often require interactions with various authorities, including local government offices, zoning boards, and tax agencies. These can get time-consuming, and your failure to keep up with the various requirements you’ll face will result in delays in the processing of your transaction.

Your real estate attorney can manage these interactions on your behalf. In cases where special approvals are needed, or where there is an objection to some aspect of your transaction, your attorney can represent you in court hearings or meetings with officials. This representation is particularly valuable when it comes to large, complex transactions, or when you have to deal with stringent government regulations.

Disputes and Mediation

Real estate transactions that don’t work out as expected commonly involve litigation, as do landlord/tenant relationships that turn sour. If this happens to you, you’ll want to work with a real estate lawyer who has a proven track record of effective dispute resolution on behalf of clients.

Your lawyer can draft legal pleadings with judges, participate in hearings and trials, bargain with opposing counsel, work out settlement agreements, and file appeals.

An attorney will also be able to advise you on whether mediation could be a workable alternative to litigation in the event of a dispute. When you pursue litigation, a judge decides the outcome of your case based on their limited knowledge of your circumstances and your dispute. With mediation, on the other hand, the power to settle the score rests with you and the other party; a neutral third party (the mediator) helps you to understand the relevant issues and find common ground, but never hands down any binding decisions in the way a judge does. This is a more agreeable and productive solution for many people.

The right decision here will depend on various factors, including your relationship with the other party to your real estate contract, the value of the deal, and the strength of your case. Your attorney will be able to analyze all these factors for you and point you in the right direction.

Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess: Your Trusted Real Estate Attorneys

With nearly three decades of combined experience in the Seattle and Tacoma markets, the real estate attorneys at Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess are ready to help you with any property issue you may have.

If you need a high-quality, cost-effective service and innovative legal solutions, you can count on us.

Contact us today for a phone consultation at (253) 572-1000 if you’re in Tacoma, or (206) 621-1110 if you’re in Seattle.

For more options to contact Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, visit our Contact Us page.