What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

A real estate attorney helps you navigate the legal aspects of buying or selling property. They help draft contracts, conduct due diligence on properties, review mortgage documents and ensure compliance with zoning laws. They also handle more complex issues like land title issues, easements and environmental concerns. While the average person might go through the homebuying process a few times in their lifetime, real estate attorneys work on hundreds of property transactions a year. For this reason, they are very knowledgeable about the process and can offer guidance that a layperson might not have.

Real estate attorneys will often work closely with your real estate agent and mortgage lender to make sure all of the necessary paperwork is completed correctly. They may be hired at the beginning of the process to help draft a contract, or they might be brought in toward the middle or end of the process to make sure that the contract reflects your specific circumstances and interests. They can also assist with negotiating terms, settling disputes and ensuring that all of the documents you sign are legally binding.

For residential real estate, most states require the involvement of a real estate attorney at some point during the closing process. A real estate attorney will schedule the closing, coordinate all of the different parties’ schedules and make sure that all of the checks are properly written and signed. They can also answer any questions you might have throughout the process and advocate for you to make sure that your closing runs smoothly.

If you are working with commercial real estate, your lawyer can help you navigate more complicated issues like leasing space to tenants or acquiring an existing building from a corporation. They can also advise you on tax considerations based on the structure of your deal and the type of property you are purchasing. Your real estate attorney can also help you draft a purchase and sale agreement that is appropriate for your situation, including any unique or special conditions you might have.

In addition to preparing the contract, your real estate attorney will often attend your closing with you. Closing is the final step in the transaction when the money is exchanged and you officially become the owner of your new property. The attorney will review all of the documents with you, explain them in detail and make sure that they accurately reflect your transactions. They will also be responsible for drafting the federal HUD-1 Form and related transfer of funds documentation for your lender.

While many real estate lawyers use plain language, there are some concepts in real estate law that can be difficult for a non-lawyer to understand. For example, a clause in a contract that states that a certain action is contingent on another action might sound simple enough but could have significant implications down the road if it is not followed through with properly. A real estate attorney can help you understand these complex issues and protect your rights.

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