Navigating your way around the intricacies of the real estate industry is always easier if you are armed with the right information and resources. The right information refers to things like having knowledge of the local real estate market, knowledge of the relevant laws that govern the industry among others. Resources, on the other hand, refers to things like access to a good real estate lawyer to provide legal advice and cover, membership of various real estate associations, a good marketing strategy, and more. The specific resources you will need will no doubt depend on what exactly you are trying to do with the real estate in question.
This article focuses exclusively on the resource that is the real estate attorney.
Who is a real estate attorney?
It goes without saying that if you want to succeed in the world of real estate you need to know the ins and outs of the industry. From a cursory glance, it often seems as if it is a simple thing to start and conclude a property transaction, but in reality, you will soon realize that there are a number of moving pieces and key players that are usually involved in any transaction.
Oftentimes, a real estate lawyer is the one resource that can help you put each piece of the puzzle in its right place. This is, of course, in addition to making sure that you do not run foul of any laws that govern or regulate the industry.
In essence, real estate attorneys are trained legal specialists who use their knowledge and skills in matters involving property transactions and the law, to guide you in whatever deal you are involved with. This can range from drafting and reviewing legal documents, negotiating terms and conditions, helping you perform a title search, facilitating the transfer of titles, and more.
The value a real estate attorney brings to the property game
There is this ongoing conversation about if it is absolutely necessary to hire an attorney for a real estate transaction. The general consensus seems to be that it is. This is in addition to the fact that some states make it mandatory that a lawyer should be involved in any real estate closing.
While most people often raise an eyebrow at the extra cost they usually have to incur to retain the services of an attorney, the simple fact of the matter is that the value they bring to the table far outweighs their cost. And when you consider the large amount of money that is usually involved in the buying and selling of any property, it makes absolutely no sense not to protect yourself by getting a lawyer on your side.
Some tasks that a real estate lawyer performs in a transaction are:
The various contracts that will be used throughout the process will likely need to be drafted and/or reviewed by an attorney. Some of these documents include an offer to purchase, seller disclosure, purchase/sale contract, and several others.
This is arguably one of the most important tasks or functions that an attorney will perform for you, especially if you are on the buy-side of the equation. A title search is a search of the property records at the office of the County Register of Deeds in order to determine and verify the true ownership of the property in question. Also, a check is made to find out if there are any easements or restrictive covenants or any other issues with the title of the property that may potentially come into play in the future to nullify the transaction.
Additionally, a search is made at the County Clerk of Court’s Office to determine if there are any, liens, as well as a search to see if there are any outstanding tax assessments on the property
Preliminary Title Report
This preliminary report is mainly used by a title insurance company in their decision process on whether to provide title insurance to the lender and/or buyer. This report essentially contains a whole host of information related to the property, such as if there is anything that has been recorded judgment against the property, such as an encroachment, easement or lien.
An attorney will often serve as a coordinator between all the parties to a real estate transaction, making sure that everybody is doing what he or she is supposed to be doing, and also, he or she will always keep the lines of communication open between all the parties to ensure that everybody is kept in the loop of what is going on.
Recording and Disbursement
After all the instruments of the real estate transaction have been executed, the real estate attorney will often be the one to ensure that the title and deed record of the property in question is updated accordingly.
After this, the attorney will also be tasked with disbursing the funds that are due to all parties involved, referring to people like the estate agent, property and pest inspection fees, broker fees, homeowner association dues, seller proceeds, and of course, the attorney’s fees.
The bottom line
The fact of the matter is that it is almost impossible to conclude a real estate transaction without having the input of a real estate lawyer in some way, shape or form. This contact may also happen directly or indirectly. This, of course, is not even referring to the states that mandate the presence of a real estate attorney for all transactions.
However, for those people who think they can get away with concluding a real estate deal without input from a lawyer, they, in all likelihood are setting themselves up for failure. The vast amount of money usually involved in a property deal, the ever-present potential for fraud, the potential for external and unknown factors coming into play at a future date, and other reasons or factors, are things that must be considered and which should demand that you insist on, or involve a lawyer in any and all real estate property deals you are involved with.
Kanayo Okwuraiwe is a startup founder, an incurable entrepreneur, and a digital marketing professional. His latest project has seen him found a digital marketing agency called Telligent Marketing LLC that provides lawyer SEO services to help law firms grow their law practices. Follow him on Linkedln.