Young Woman On Phone With Attorney Discussing First Time Home Purchase

Real Estate Attorneys: What's Their Role In The Home Buying Process?

Carey Chesney4 Minute Read
December 02, 2021

When it comes to buying and selling real estate, the legal and technical hoops you need to jump through can be daunting. Luckily, your lender and real estate agent can help guide you through this process. While they certainly are capable of handling everything from start to finish in most cases, sometimes you may require the services of a real estate attorney, depending on the nature of your transaction and the laws in the state where you’re buying or selling property.

Understanding what a real estate attorney does and how they may be able to help you is important so you’re able to identify the circumstances where you might need to employ one. Here we will take a deeper dive into what a real estate attorney is, what they do and why you may consider utilizing their services.

First Things First: What’s A Real Estate Attorney?

Simply put, a real estate attorney is specifically licensed to practice real estate law. This means they have the knowledge, experience and educational background to provide advice to people involved in a real estate transaction, such as the sale of a house or land. You may also come across the term real estate lawyer, which is the same thing as a real estate attorney.

What Does A Real Estate Attorney Do?

Essentially, real estate attorneys are qualified to prepare and review documents and contracts related to the sale and purchase of real estate. Both the buyer and seller can hire an attorney to represent their interests during the transaction, and in some cases, a real estate attorney might be in charge of the closing of the home. When they’re overseeing a closing where the home is being purchased with a mortgage loan, the real estate attorney may represent the mortgage lender as well.

Whether representing the buyer, the lender, the seller or all three parties, a good real estate lawyer has a solid understanding of the various moving parts during a real estate transaction and should be able to make sure everything runs smoothly.

What Does A Real Estate Attorney Do For A Buyer?

While it’s not always necessary to hire a real estate attorney when buying a home, they can be a valuable resource to help guide you and represent you through the home buying process. Buyers typically hire a real estate attorney when they don’t understand the home buying and mortgage process, which can be confusing. There is quite a bit of paperwork and information to digest, like title insurance, dealing with sellers and contract contingencies, and having a licensed real estate attorney can bring some peace of mind to the process. From beginning to end, a good real estate attorney is there to help every step of the way. Attending the mortgage closing, reviewing all loan documents and being there until you officially have ownership of the home are a few of the key milestones a real estate attorney can accompany and advise you on.

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How Much Does A Real Estate Attorney Cost?

The cost of a real estate attorney depends on what services you hire them for, the mortgage lender you choose and any laws that are specific to your state. Some real estate attorneys have a fixed hourly rate, and others have fixed flat rates for different types of services they offer. A typical hourly rate can be between $150 and $350, and a flat rate that covers the entire transaction can be anywhere between $500 and $1,500.

Do I Need A Real Estate Attorney?

As previously mentioned, first-time home buyers who might not understand real estate transactions and/or don’t know about legal documents and contracts often consider using a real estate attorney. That said, many buyers and sellers go through the home process without a real estate attorney and just rely on the services of a real estate agent and mortgage lender. In most cases, this is sufficient, but if you don’t understand a majority of the real estate processes and become confused or overwhelmed when buying or selling your home, a real estate attorney can be extremely helpful and valuable.

How To Pick A Real Estate Attorney

When hiring a real estate attorney, picking the one is key. Purchasing a home is a large investment, so you’ll want an attorney who not only knows what they’re doing but is also a good fit for your specific needs and style. It’s a good idea to interview a few different ones to ensure you find the right fit.

Here are a few things to consider when interviewing real estate attorneys.

  • Are they knowledgeable?
  • Do they have a good reputation?
  • Are they personable and do they possess great communication skills?
  • Are they recommended by co-workers, friends or family?
  • Do they have good reviews on online legal review sites?

The Bottom Line: Real Estate Attorneys Can Help

A real estate attorney can help in a myriad of ways when it comes to buying or selling real estate. They shouldn't just be your legal representation but also someone who’s there every step of the way throughout the home buying process when needed. While it’s not always necessary to have a real estate attorney when participating in a real estate transaction, hiring one, especially a knowledgeable and trustworthy attorney, might make the home buying process easier for you. Not sure where to go from here? Take the home buying quiz to see what’s in your area to get started on the home buying process.

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Carey Chesney

Carey Chesney brings a wealth of real estate sales and marketing experience to his buyers and sellers as they navigate highly competitive markets. Carey and his wife Ilze work together as Realtors® in Michigan.