So you’re ready to buy your first property. You’ve even lined up a realtor to help you with the sale. That’s awesome, but don’t forget to speak to an attorney, as well. Otherwise, you could land yourself in a world of legal – and possibly even financial – trouble. Here’s why.
Whether you’re purchasing a home or buying a headquarters for your business, it’s probably going to be one of the most significant undertakings you’ll ever experience. Not only are you unlikely to spend more on any other transaction, there’s a certain permanence to the process that isn’t really present when leasing or renting. You’re making something yours – and that can be terrifying if you go in unprepared.
Yet many people do. This is a problem. An attorney is an absolute necessity for both buyers and sellers for a host of reasons.
Realtors don’t know everything
A lot of people tend to assume their realtor knows everything they need to about the intricacies of real estate law. And while it’s true that such men and women are knowledgeable – after all, this is their career – it’s also true that there’s plenty they don’t know. The best realtors recognize and acknowledge this.
What if you need help reviewing community interest development agreements? What if you need a private loan from a relative or friend as part of your purchase? What if you need to draft up a co-buyer agreement?
There are a ton of legal complications and roadblocks you can run into when purchasing a property. Better to have an attorney present from the start rather than scrambling to find one during negotiations. That goes double even if you’ve just got a bog-standard purchase agreement.
Depending on where you live, it might be mandatory
Some states require the presence of an attorney for all real estate transactions. If your purchase is taking place in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, or West Virginia, you’ll need legal representation. It’s the law.
There are plenty of bad sellers out there
We’re all familiar with the old stereotype of the used car salesman – a slick, sleazy snake whose only goal is to offload lemons on poor, unsuspecting saps. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like that in the real estate market. And there are just as many people who are breaking a real estate law or two without realizing it.
If you buy from them, their legal problems become your legal problems. By bringing an attorney into the process, you can better guarantee you’ll be able to recognize and address any legal concerns you might encounter. As an added bonus, this could even end up saving you money – after all, there’s no way you’re paying the asking price for a home with an illegal rental unit or a building where the seller attempted to keep building code violations a secret.
I recall one client I spoke to who – at the urging of his realtor – opted to forego a physical inspection on a property he purchased. Had an attorney been involved in the process, they might have urged otherwise. Unfortunately, he didn’t see the need for a lawyer – as a result, he ended up having to spend several thousand on repairs which, had an inspection been performed, would not have been his responsibility.
Cover your bases
Whether you’re purchasing property for your home or your business, you’re putting down a lot of money. You’ll want to do everything you can to protect that investment – and to be certain you aren’t making a bad one. That includes hiring a real estate attorney, even if you don’t think one is necessary.
Because at the end of the day, it’s better to have an attorney and not need one than to need one and not have one.
About the Author:
Ryan B. Bormaster is the managing attorney at Bormaster Law. The law firm practices in a number of areas but specializes in 18 Wheeler Accidents, Accidents with Commercial Vehicles such as Work Trucks and Catastrophic Injuries of all kinds.