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Do You Need a Lawyer to Buy or Sell a Home?

The sale of a home cane be a very stressful process for anyone, whether they are buying, or selling. While many may question the extra costs of having a real estate attorney or closing lawyer, it is in the best interest of both parties to have a real estate lawyer involved in the whole process, from start to finish. For the seller, an attorney can help them to make sure that they have fulfilled their responsibilities of disclosure, etc, before closing. This can save the seller a great deal of headache in the future. The same is true of the buyer. Having an experienced real estate and/or closing attorney can save thousands of dollars in the long run. Here is an example of how:

What Could Possibly Go Wrong Without a Lawyer?

There are a number of things that could go wrong for the buyer and the seller if they choose to undertake the process of selling a home with no legal representation. In the state of Massachusetts, it is a requirement to have a lawyer present during the closing process. Since the state allows the real estate attorney that you have hired for the entire process to also serve as your closing lawyer, why not use their expertise? After all, this is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Here are some issues the buyer or seller may face in closing that a lawyer could help with:

Fine Print: Title Affidavit

There was once a married couple who had negotiated the sale of the home they wanted, and paid close to $1600 for a deposit. They had went through the process exactly, making sure to have a title search done, get title insurance, etc. They thought that they were completely protected when they made their deposit. It was later discovered, however, that they had missed some very important fine print. The lender had made it a condition on the loan that the seller was required to sign a title affidavit. This document would simple state that if, at any time in the future, an issue were to come up with the title that the seller would be responsible. The seller refused to sign, and the lender backed out of the deal. This left the couple with no house, and a $16,000 loss. An experienced real estate lawyer would have been able to protect the rights of the buyers, and closely examined any fine print that may have been worded in such a way that the average person would not understand.

Fine Print: Keeping Records

A seller once had his home ready to go to closing. He had accepted the buyer’s Offer to Purchase, agreed on the price, deposit, closing date, etc. He had disclosed all of the information about the property that he felt was necessary according to the law. He had already found a new home for himself and his family, and was just waiting on the money from the sale to pay his own deposit. The seller had opted to sell his home without an attorney to save some money for the move. As closing day approached, however, the buyer’s attorney caught a few things that the seller had missed. The seller had not fulfilled his obligation to obtain and keep records of any discharges of mortgages on the property. That meant that the proper documentation had not been filed at the registry of deeds. As a result, the buyers had the option to hold money that would have gone to the seller. The seller was unable to close at the time specified, and lost a great deal of money in the deal, which in turn, kept him from being able to pay down on his own house. Had he hired an experience real estate attorney, all of those issues could have been avoided.

There are many other things that can go wrong for the buyer or the seller in a real estate sale, if either party does not have a lawyer. If you need to speak with a real estate attorney, give us a call today.

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