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Real Estate Attorney

Do I Need an Attorney When Selling My Home?

This originally aired on the Catholic Faith Network’s show CFN Live:

Why does a homeowner need an attorney to sell their home?

There is no legal requirement that you hire an attorney to represent you on the sale or purchase of a residence. In certain states, using an attorney is an option, in other states, like New York, you really do need the real estate attorney to represent you. The sale of a residence involves a contract which is a legal agreement. Russo Law Groups recommends hiring an attorney on such a significant financial transaction.

What services can an attorney provide to someone selling their home?

 Let’s start with the seller entering into an engagement agreement with the attorney which will spell out the services to be provided.

Do I Need an Attorney?The first step that the attorney can assist the homeowner with is the pricing of the home and the hiring of a real estate agent (unless this step has already been taken care of).

Once the seller has a buyer for his home, the attorney for the seller will draft the contract of sale, review the terms of the contract with the seller, negotiate the terms of the contract with the buyer’s attorney, and finalize the contract. Then, they would arrange for the signing of the contract and the receipt of the downpayment. Lastly, the attorney will represent the seller at the closing.

After the contract is signed, what happens next?

Seller’s attorney will escrow the downpayment in accordance with the terms of the contract, monitor any mortgage contingency, and review the title report which will be ordered by the buyer’s attorney.

Real Estate Contract

What is a “title report” and why do you have to order it?

A title report is a summary of the property’s history. It helps identify if there are any title issues such as outstanding mortgages, open permits, or filed judgments. It also sets forth the chain of ownership.

Title ReportThis is a necessary step, as the Purchaser will want clear title to the property. The title report will also be required if the purchaser is seeking a mortgage.

The Purchaser will want to insure against a dispute as to ownership of the property or anything else that could negatively affect their ownership in the property.

The Seller’s attorney will review the title report and assist the seller with resolving any issues that may arise to ensure there is clear title.

For example: Working to obtain the requisite documents to satisfy all liens and judgements against the property, whether old or current, including mortgages that have been satisfied, but nonetheless still show as an open lien against the property,

And then there may be open permits or deficient certificates of occupancy. 

Once “title” is clear, what happens next?

We are now on to the last stage: the “closing”. Prior to the closing, the seller’s attorney will have to make sure all contingencies have been addressed, calculate the closing costs, and prepare a closing statement. The Seller’s attorney will draft the deed and other requisite documents which are needed to transfer the property and then attend the closing with the seller.

For more information on selling and buying homes, we have a free Real Estate guide that provides helpful information on selling and buying your home.

CLICK HERE to download our free Real Estate Planning Guide.

We hope you found this article helpful. Contact our office today at 1 (800) 680-1717 and schedule an appointment to discuss what makes sense for you and your loved ones.

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