What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

A real estate attorney handles legal issues that pertain to the purchase, sale or lease of property. They help clients understand the ramifications of their contracts and negotiate terms that protect their best interests. They may also handle land development, zoning ordinances, restrictions and property taxes. Some attorneys specialize in a particular area of real estate law, such as commercial or residential transactions. Others may be generalists who focus on litigation or bankruptcy. The skills that a successful real estate attorney must have include excellent verbal and written communication, strong organizational abilities and an understanding of the complex legal terminology and laws that apply to real estate.

Some states require that a buyer or seller work with an attorney during a real estate transaction. Even in those states that don’t, a lawyer can help ensure that a buyer or seller doesn’t unknowingly sign a contract with unfair terms. An attorney can also review title insurance policies, oversee the closing process and answer questions about a property’s history.

Most real estate transactions involve a lot of documentation and complicated legal terms. A lawyer can help a buyer or seller navigate these complicated legal aspects of a transaction, saving them time and money in the long run. They can also handle specialized transactions, such as short sales, foreclosures or bank purchases, which often have unique legal considerations.

When a person is buying or selling a home or business, a real estate attorney can draft the initial contract. They can make sure the contract has all the necessary information, including the legal description of the property, purchase price and closing date. They can also amend a contract to correct any misunderstandings or clarify terms that are unclear. For example, if a person is buying a home that was previously owned by a divorced spouse, the attorney can amend the contract to reflect the rights of each party according to state law.

An attorney can also be helpful when a person is selling their home or business after a divorce. The attorney can provide guidance on how to divide up the property and negotiate stipulations in the divorce decree that must be met for the sale to proceed. The attorney can also assist a client in working through the difficult emotional aspect of the separation.

During the closing process, the real estate attorney will attend with the seller and buyer to ensure all documents are signed correctly and that the transfer of ownership is complete. They will also explain the title report and survey of the property to the parties involved, answering any questions they have about liens, restrictions, agreements or easements that affect the property. They can also help a seller resolve any issues with the previous owner, such as unpaid liens or contractor bills. They can also help the buyer and lender understand their loan obligations.

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