According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
, over six million homes were sold in the United States in 2019. While home buying
are common, real estate transactions are anything but simple. A real estate agent may be able to guide you through some aspects of the process, but complex legal issues demand the attention and advice of an attorney.
State and local authorities place strict regulations on the buying and selling of property. If you enter into an agreement without the input of an attorney, you may risk facing significant financial and legal issues down the road. The choice to hire a real estate attorney
can help reduce that risk. If you are interested in buying or selling property in Florida, consider visiting with a knowledgeable attorney at St. Petersburg Real Estate Attorneys, Ross & Pardun, A Division of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. at (727) 381-2300 to understand how we may be able to assist you.
How Are Real Estate Attorneys Different From Real Estate Agents?
Many real estate buyers and sellers assume that having a real estate agent on their side is good enough and that there is no need to hire a real estate attorney
. That might be the case for some very simple real estate transactions. For many real estate deals, especially those with potential legal implications, a real estate agent alone is not enough.
While real estate agents are highly knowledgeable, they are not qualified to help clients navigate complex legal issues. In fact, the National Association of Realtors
’ code of ethics prohibits agents from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. This means that agents may not draft legal documents or provide legal advice to clients.
Real estate attorneys are well-positioned to protect the legal interests of their clients in real estate transactions. An attorney can assist with many crucial aspects of the buying and selling process, including:
- Drafting and reviewing legal documents
- Resolving errors or disputes
- Negotiating the terms of the real estate contract
- Anticipating potential legal issues and advising clients accordingly
- Facilitating the closing process
- Ensuring time-limited legal deadlines are met
- Preparing the title insurance policy
Real estate attorneys bring a wealth of knowledge to the table, and their input can potentially save clients significant time and money long after a sale closes. Most importantly, a real estate attorney’s sole stake in any transaction is the legal protection of the client, which is a key reason to hire a real estate attorney
. St. Petersburg Real Estate Attorneys, Ross & Pardun offer a variety of services related to Florida real estate and would be happy to discuss your situation with you.
Reasons To Hire a Real Estate Attorney: Buyers
Buyers who choose to hire a real estate attorney
enjoy peace of mind knowing that their legal interests are protected. Attorneys often represent the interests of buyers as clients by:
- Reviewing the sales contract to ensure it is legally compliant
- Modifying the contract to add contingencies to protect the buyer
- Performing a title search to ensure the seller has the legal right to sell the property
- Filing all documents as required under state and local laws
- Ensuring that the terms of the contract are met
- Representing the buyer in litigation, arbitration, or mediation
Buyers might also want to hire a real estate attorney if there are special circumstances involved. Some examples include:
- Purchasing a bank-owned or short-sale property
- Purchasing a property from the estate of a deceased individual
- A property located in an area with adverse weather or health issues, such as flood zones or toxic substances
- Property purchases in another city or state
- Tenant-occupied property
- Purchasing property which includes an easement or other right-to-use situation
Reasons To Hire a Real Estate Attorney: Sellers
Real estate attorneys perform many similar functions for sellers, such as reviewing and modifying documents, performing a title search, and ensuring contractual compliance. An attorney might also assist a seller by:
- Reviewing the real estate agent’s listing agreement
- Ensuring the seller has met contractual requirements, including disclosure of relevant facts regarding the property, to minimize the risk of future litigation
- Negotiating rights which the seller wishes to reserve
- Reviewing offers to identify potential issues
- Verifying the breakdown of settlement funds at closing
Special circumstances might also prompt a seller to hire a real estate attorney, such as:
- Selling a property as executor of an estate
- Selling a jointly-owned property during or after a divorce
- Known judgments or liens against the property
- Home inspection issues resulting in a need to negotiate repairs before closing
- Unique sales, such as a land contract for deed or lease to own
Other Reasons To Hire a Real Estate Attorney
A real estate attorney can be a valuable resource beyond basic real estate transactions. There are many instances where the decision to hire a real estate attorney could prove beneficial, including:
- Seeking to have property rezoned
- Subdividing property
- Developing property
- Buying or selling commercial property
- Mortgage refinancing
- Commercial or residential real estate leasing
- Eviction situations
- Mortgage foreclosure law
- Land trusts and other special ownership arrangements
- Property renovation
Many changes and transitions happen during the cycle of real estate ownership, and they are often governed by strict local or state laws. That also means ample potential for legal missteps, which could result in serious legal or financial liability. One way to safeguard against legal issues is to hire a real estate attorney when legal questions arise.
How a Real Estate Attorney Can Help You
Buying and selling property can be exciting, but real estate transactions also carry legal consequences. When buyers and sellers fail to ensure that all legal aspects of a real estate transaction are in order, they risk time, money, and legal liability. Deciding to hire a real estate attorney provides peace of mind on legal matters that a real estate agent cannot offer. Attorneys are uniquely positioned to review real estate documents, ensure legal compliance, and help negotiate contractual issues if needed.
If you are planning to buy or sell property, or have other legal questions regarding Florida real estate issues, consider speaking with St. Petersburg Real Estate Attorneys
, Ross & Pardun, A Division of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. at (727) 381-2300 to understand how we may be able to help you.