(Part 4 in a Series.)
In many states, a contract of sale is little more than a form, consisting of a few pages, filled out by the real estate agent and signed by all parties. In those states, most home buyers don’t use an attorney. Here in down-state New York, real estate transactions are an entirely different animal. Sales contracts can be dozens of pages, with clauses covering everything from possession dates, to required repairs, to title issues. When buying a home, you need a good real estate attorney.
Your Real Estate Attorney is the fourth critical member of your team.
Many buyers look at their attorney as a necessary evil and don’t appreciate the value that the right attorney brings to the table. As such, they look to hire the least expensive attorney they can find. “What’s the big deal?” they say. “It’s just a simple house contract.”
Take my word for it. There’s no such thing.
Choosing an attorney is like choosing a physician. If you need heart surgery, don’t you want the best cardiac surgeon? Or are you satisfied to let Uncle Vinny the podiatrist cut open your chest because he’s going to discount his fee? The practice of law is just as specialized as medicine. While attorneys can have more than one area of practice, let your personal injury attorney handle your lawsuit, your matrimonial attorney handle your divorce, and make sure you find an excellent real estate attorney to handle your home purchase.
There are literally dozens of legal issues that can come up during a transaction. Whether they’re minor concerns or major problems, guidance from a competent and experienced real estate attorney is critical to resolving them correctly.
To the novice real estate attorney, it’s all pretty much boiler-plate. But to the seasoned veteran, strategically changing a few words in the contract can potentially mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars to his client. With such huge sums of money on the line, is it wise to compare attorneys simply based on price?
I’ve observed more buyers than I care to remember choose an attorney simply based on price. I’ve witnessed buyers retain attorneys who “claimed” they’re experts in real estate. And I’ve been horrified by the careless and defective advice these attorneys have given their clients.
When choosing an attorney, ask for recommendations from friends and relatives who have recently purchased or sold a home. And do ask your Realtor or Mortgage Planner for a recommendation. They’ve observed their clients thrilled by some wonderful attorneys in action as well as other buyers aggravated by some awful ones. Before adding a real estate attorney to your team, be careful to choose wisely.
Warren Goldberg is President of Mortgage Wealth Advisors, a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, and a published author. His interviews include Blog-Talk Radio, Newsday, and the Long Island Herald. Since 1992, he’s been sharing his financial knowledge and wealth-building strategies, including how to properly use your mortgage as a financial tool. His clients regularly express their trust and appreciation by recommending friends and family call when in need of mortgage, real estate, and financial guidance.