Whether buying or selling property, those looking to navigate real estate transactions have likely found themselves wondering whether they should use a real estate agent or a real estate attorney. What is the difference? Does it really matter which you choose?
Which you choose can make a big difference. For some real estate deals one or the other may suffice, for others it is best to use both so you can benefit from the offerings of each. The following information may help guide your discussion when trying to determine which is best for you.
Difference #1: Payment.
A real estate agent is generally paid based on commission, once real estate is sold, while a real estate attorney is paid by the hour. There is also often a fee if you choose to stop working with a real estate agent. The contract you sign when you agree to work with the agent would give the details on how much this fee is and when it applies. It is important to do your due diligence before signing that document. If you change your mind, it could end up costing you more than you expect.
Difference #2: Legal advice.
A real estate agent cannot give it, ever. Those that do are in violation of the law and could lose their license.
Legal advice is important in a variety of situations when going through a real estate transaction. You could find that a property has an easement, or a portion of land that is shared with another property owner. Driveways are a common example. There could also be issues with the title of the property. A real estate attorney can help find these issues and discuss your options if you choose to continue to move forward with the deal.
Difference #3: Neighborhood knowledge.
A real estate agent will likely have more information about different neighborhoods. They should be able to answer questions about the types of schools and amenities available in different areas, while an attorney may not have this information.