When it comes to buying and selling a house, finding the right real estate lawyer is critical. Although most buyers think they only need an attorney to conduct a title search, register the deed and handle the transfer of funds, in reality having an attorney on board prior to making an offer on a property can have huge benefits. An offer to purchase is a contract and without the benefit of legal review, you as the buyer may unknowingly agree to terms that are not in your best interest.
A related and frequent misconception is that any attorney is capable of handling real estate deals. Unfortunately, unless the lawyer is trained and experienced in real estate law, there is a good chance he or she could miss some key details of the contract and actually make the buying process worse.
Indeed, for a seller, the same rules hold true. Instead of reviewing a contract, the seller is actually creating one. Inadvertent errors that could cost the seller thousands of dollars are easy to make when dealing with the wording of a contract. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interests to have their attorneys involved from the beginning of the process.
Rosario Talarico, of the Talarico and Schwisberg Law Offices of Ottawa, is a practiced lawyer in the field of real estate law who has seen the result of trying to keep the process as inexpensive as possible. He states, “It is far too common to see mistakes that could have been easily avoided; mistakes are all too easy to make when you don’t have the knowledge you need.”
Common problems that Mr. Talarico sees include simple typos that change the actual intent of a contract, vague and pointless articles that don’t add any value to the document and hidden fees and penalties that are minimized on paper, but can have a huge impact on the actual agreement.
Buyers should always know what they are getting into, and before agreeing to a deposit on any property, the contract should be reviewed by an attorney. All too often, a fact or item incorrectly written out or wholly unnoticed in the original contract grows into a legal issue or matter of dispute between the buyer and seller. Such problems can be circumvented by gaining legal advice from a real estate lawyer early on in the process.
Even worse than the attitude that buyers don’t need an attorney other than to review contractual papers are the buyers who believe they don’t need a real estate lawyer at all. Whether it is a lack of familiarity with real estate or a failure to understand what problems a poor contract can cause, there are buyers out there who will sign large, multi-thousand dollar deals without knowing exactly what the fine print says.
“Real estate is not a game for amateurs,” continues Rosario Talarico, “There are people out there who will take advantage of you.”
The old adage that being forewarned is forearmed holds true in real estate; know what you are getting into, double check that the deal favors you and then have someone who is trained and understands what a contract signifies make sure signing it is in your best interest.