Home selling 101, Part 2 – Step 2 may seem obvious: Get an attorney. But in many parts of the country, real estate transactions are done without attorneys. Not surprisingly, I suppose, title disputes and other post-closing legal disputes seem to be more prevalent in those areas, too. When you’re dealing with either the sale or purchase of an asset as significant as a home, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to fly solo through the legal storm clouds.
There are several reasons why it’s a good idea to have an attorney when selling your home. For instance, you will need to supply the buyer and their attorney with title insurance, and clear any title defects to provide clear title. You’ll have to supply a properly drafted deed, an affidavit of title, a bill of sale for any personal property included in the contract, ALTA forms, a survey and several other other documents at closing.
What can you expect your attorney to do? He or she will prepare those closing documents. They will coordinate obtaining the survey. During the deal, they will negotiate any home inspection issues with the other side. There are all sorts of tasks like these and many others that would otherwise be your responsibility to perform. In most cases your attorney will also review title and have a title commitment issued that enables the buyer to go ahead and obtain a loan. If your attorney is a title insurance agent, final title clearance at closing will also be done by your attorney to enable the deal to close. Any problems in any of this can delay or even threaten to prevent the closing. You don’t want that once you’ve got a willing buyer at your door. Pricing for real estate attorneys can vary, but you might consider that the old saying “you get what you pay for” is old for a reason.
Your real estate broker may recommend attorneys they know and trust, and your friends and others may also have suggestions. Give the attorney a call. Ask what they do for you in a deal. Go ahead and ask what they charge. Get a feel for whether you’re comfortable with them, and whether this is someone you want to work with.