What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do Anyway?
Real estate lawyers are the glue that holds the transaction together. To put it another way, they are the “quarterback” of the “football game” that is the purchase or sale of a home. Regardless of whether you are a new home buyer purchasing your first property or your developer buying a plot of vacant land to build your next project, your real estate lawyer has essentially two objectives: to ensure that you are getting what you paid for and the protect you from incurring debts and liens by purchasing a property to which a third party may have an interest.
To achieve this objective, the lawyer should be involved both before and after you have signed the purchase and sale agreement for the property. Before you sign, the real estate lawyer should review the agreement of purchase and sale and make recommendations to changes portions of the agreement that could lead to problems down the road
It is especially important to have your agreement of purchase and sale reviewed by a lawyer when buying a newly constructed property. Such agreements often have strict clauses about occupancy tenant restrictions, assignment of the unit and rules regarding renovations. Such clauses need to be adjusted by a competent real estate lawyer so that you are not overly restricted from renting out a property or renovating it after occupancy.
After you sign an agreement, it is important that you contact a real estate lawyer to assist with closing the transaction. A real estate lawyer’s role at this stage is to ensure that the property you purchased is available for your use or re-sale without any legal obstructions (encumbrances). Your real estate lawyer should ensure that any liens, mortgages, or easements on the property will be removed so as you are not inhibited from selling it or using any of the equity in the property. The lawyer also ensure that the taxes and utilities or mortgages registered on the property by the seller are paid in full before the property is transferred into your name and that the lot size of the property being transferred to you is accurately represented on a survey (where applicable).
A real estate lawyer is therefore an integral part of the transaction. Without a real estate lawyer you run the risk of incurring debts and liabilities of the seller or third parties that were registered against your property. You also run the risk of purchasing property that did not have “clear title” which may inhibit your ability to sell the property when you wish. Thus, a competent real estate lawyer will protect you from inheriting financial and legal obligations that could have a significant impact on your investment.