Although buying property remains one of the biggest transactions most make in their lifetime, the process is arguably easier than ever before. Technological advances have provided access to information to help prospective buyers complete due diligence prior to moving forward with a deal and the internet has a treasure trove of examples of real estate purchase agreement contracts.
With all this available, why not just go it alone? Do you really need a real estate agent or real estate attorney? In some cases, going it alone can work out well for the buyer. If the purchase is relatively simple and the buyer is comfortable going through a title search on their own, for example, the process may work out fine without representation.
In others, it can cause serious problems. Three examples that generally call for legal counsel include:
- Closing documents. You do not need to use boilerplate documents to finalize a deal. You can have closing documents tailored to your transaction. In fact, any desire to tailor a deal to your situation generally calls for legal counsel. This can mitigate the risk of surprises and better ensure your interests are protected.
- Title problems. It is a good idea to get legal help if a title search unveils encumbrances. A lien by a prior contractor or other claims of ownership do not need to be the end of the deal, but you will need to move forward with caution to better ensure proper transfer of ownership.
- Zoning issues. Whether you want to buy a property in a residential area and use it to run a business or vice versa, you may want legal counsel to guide you through zoning issues before finalizing a purchase. This is true for both individual buyers and developers.
These are just some of the more common examples that can trigger the need for an attorney. Those who believe they need legal counsel should look for one with experience in the location of the property. This better ensures the counsel will be familiar with local rules and regulations.