YOU SHOULD HIRE A REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY
It is not unusual for a client to ask: "do I really need an attorney to handle a real estate closing?" The simple answer is no; you are free to proceed without legal representation. In fact in many states, such as California it is customary that attorneys are not involved in real estate transactions; however, the result of this is that there is significantly more litigation over real estate maters in such states.
Having an attorney is preventative medicine. The role of a real estate attorney is not merely to look at a boiler plate contract, look at a title commitment and explain closing documents. The attorney's value is derived from his/her knowledge, skill and efforts to keep everyone out of trouble and to resolve issues as they are encountered though out the process.
Here are ten other reasons to having an attorney represent you.
#1. Buying a home is perhaps the largest single investment that you will make in your lifetime.
With over thirty years of experience I know what to look for and how to advise you so that YOUR interests can be protected to the maximum extent possible.
#2. No Exchange / No Return Policy
When was the last time your heard of someone "returning" a home that they weren't happy with after they completed the purchase?
When you purchase a home, it is yours and with it any problems it has. While you may be able to sue for damages, that is a costly and time consuming option; in the meantime you need to address the defects and continue to make your mortgage payments. Your attorney may help you steer clear of such problems.
#3. "It's only a form contract"
Realtors® are not qualified to practice law and in Illinois they are limited to filling in the blanks on bar approved contracts; but there are several such contracts to choose from and each imposes different obligations and requirements on the parties. As your attorney I can modify the contract your are using to see that it fits your particular circumstances.
#4. Bank Owned (REO) Properties
Buying a bank owned or foreclosed property can enable you to buy a bigger home on a smaller budget; but there are potential pitfalls that you need to be aware of. Banks will only sell properties "as-is;" while a bank may consider making a repair if you discover a hidden defect, they are under no obligation to do so. The bank will not provide a survey of the property. In fact many expenses that are customarily those of the seller; such as real estate transfer taxes, cost of de-winterize the property, etc. are passed onto the buyer. As the buyer of a REO you will need to commit moneys to the deal (i.e. inspection, de-winterizing funds, etc.) in order to protect yourself BEFORE you commit yourself to the purchase. A seasoned attorney can be an invaluable tool to you as you negotiate through the seemingly endless maze of bank paperwork.
#5. No Conflict of Interest
As an attorney I charge you for my services, not whether or not you purchase the property. Because of this I am in a position to give you my honest advice on issues that can arise during the transaction and tell you what your options are; including, possibly walking away from the deal. My opinion will not be tainted by whether or not you actually buy the property. ( In other words, I get paid for my lack of interest.)
#6 Insure Performance of the Contract
One of my jobs is to make sure that the seller fulfills the terms of the contract and transfers to you marketable title. This requires the careful review the title insurance commitment, survey and the seller's transfer documents.
#7. Monitor Contingencies
If your home purchase is contingent upon your ability to secure a loan, it is my responsibility to monitor the contingency dates and see that if you need an extension of time that it is properly obtained.
#8. Representation at Closing
While 90% of the work I do for you occurs PRIOR to closing, I attend the closing to go over the lender's documents with you to make sure that you are aware of your obligations and that the terms of the loan match those that your loan officer told you to expect. I also review the seller's documentation to insure that there are no errors that could cause a gap in the title or "encroachments" involving the property that can affect your ability to re-sell it.
#9. New Construction
New construction is not without its pitfalls for the unweary consumer. Failure to meet dead lines, follow construction plans, substitution of materials are all issues that face new construction. Hiring competent legal counsel to guide you throughout the transaction is the best step you can take toward protecting yourself and your investment.
#10. Peace of Mind
Buying a home can be both a highly emotional and stressful time for you. My job is to help keep you grounded and answer your questions both honestly and timely so that YOU can make the decisions that are appropriate for you.