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What Do Real Estate Attorneys Do For Sellers?

By Bill Gassett | August 8, 2022

When an attorney for real estate represents a seller, they could be involved in drafting contracts, negotiating terms, reviewing documents, as well as offering advice, and dealing with problems.

If you are selling your home, hiring a lawyer for real estate could be a valuable decision, even if it isn’t required in your state. Lots of folks wonder what a real estate attorney does for buyers and sellers.

We will specifically look at what services a real estate attorney provides for sellers. If you will be selling your home an attorney will be a valuable asset.

What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do For Home Sellers 1

Drafting Real Estate Contracts

When the seller has a real estate agent, they might prepare the contract. It could be one of their responsibilities for getting paid a commission. In which case, the seller’s real estate attorney might only need to review the details of the contract.

If an agent doesn’t prepare the contract, a lawyer can draft one to protect the seller’s interests.

When a buyer is found for the home, it is very often the case that a proposed contract will accompany their offer.

The seller’s lawyer can look over this first draft from the buyer, asking for changes if something isn't in the seller's best interests.

Some states will only have one contract, while others will have two. For example, Massachusetts is a two contract state. There will be an offer to purchase written when a buyer formally makes an offer.

In seven to fourteen days a purchase and sale agreement will be signed by buyer and seller. More often than not, a real estate attorney will be heavily involved in the drafting and negotiating of the purchase and sale or P&S for short.

Negotiating Contract Terms

Many parts of the transaction could be negotiated. If the buyer and seller have different expectations about the closing time frame, earnest money deposit, contract contingencies, or items included in the sale. A lawyer for real estate can represent the seller to improve the terms on their behalf.

Often standard terms are used in real estate contracts, but it is better to negotiate better terms before these contracts are signed.

The attorney should have the experience to foresee potential problems and make changes to the contract to avoid these issues.

Answering Seller’s Questions

When the contract has been agreed upon and signed by the buyer and the seller, the closing can be weeks or even months away.

Many things need to happen during this time, and some things can go wrong. A seller’s attorney will be there to answer questions and deal with problems that occur.

The attorney can answer any questions the seller might have, whether it is a problem with a home inspection, financing issues for the buyer, or anything else to do with the transaction.

Perhaps the buyer is unable to meet the agreed closing date, or they might have an issue with the home's condition. Many things can happen, and the real estate attorney will be there to clear up any confusion.

Problems like these that arise before closing might need the attorney to draft a new document. This is more often required in unusual situations that the real estate agent isn’t familiar with dealing with.

Dealing with Title Issues

The home’s title will be checked in the period before closing. If there are any defects on the title, it could end the buyer’s purchase. An attorney can address the problems in the title to keep the sale on track.

A quitclaim deed might be needed to remove a legal claim on the property, removing the title defect. While this is a relatively simple process, sometimes the situation isn’t as straightforward.

There will be more work involved for the lawyer if a quiet title action is needed to clarify or settle a dispute over ownership.

If this happens, more time might be required, and the closing date changed. This will have to be negotiated by the lawyer to extend the time period.

Creating The New Deed

Depending on the rules in the state, it might be up to the attorney working for the seller to prepare the deed.

When a title insurance company is involved in closing and recording the deed, a seller's attorney can still review the deed's details and other closing documentation.

Financing Arrangements

If a transaction involves some unusual financing, the seller's attorney might draft documents to deal with the situation. The lawyer can review the details if a financing arrangement has already been drafted.

Closing Conference

If a title company isn't involved in closing, the seller's lawyer might hold a closing conference at their office. If this happens, both the buyer and seller must attend to sign papers. The option to do this virtually might also be available, however.

Real Estate attorneys will then go to the local registry of deeds to get the deed recorded and on record.

Dealing With Transaction Disputes

Sometimes things go wrong, and when this happens, the seller’s attorney is available to help resolve the situation. This can resolve a legal issue or even prevent it from happening in the first place. If a seller has involved an attorney throughout the transaction, there is a better chance to protect their interests in these situations.

Disputes are usually unexpected, but if they can be tackled quickly, things can be resolved and the sale can continue to progress to closing.

The perfect example is discovering a property encroachment in the middle of the transaction. Your lawyer will be in your corner to help resolve the situation.

Are Real Estate Attorneys Necessary?

No, a real estate attorney is not needed but it is an excellent idea to have one. One of the chief roles of an attorney is to protect your best interests in the transaction.

Considering the purchase of a home is a significant life expense, it only makes sense. After all, it will probably one of your biggest assets.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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