A real estate attorney can smooth the process of buying or selling a home in Washington State. While you are not required to have one by law, many people choose to hire someone to ensure that paperwork mistakes and uncooperative sellers don’t cause problems. After all, your home is likely the biggest purchase or sale of your life.
What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do for Homeowners?
A real estate attorney will represent you throughout the entire process of buying or selling a home, not just at closing. They will help you navigate the terms and language of the transaction, negotiate the inspection, and provide legal counsel. They can also negotiate on your behalf if the other party tries to make changes at the last minute or if financing problems appear.
When you close, the lawyer will ensure the loan documents you sign are prepared accurately and reflect the fees you and the seller have each agreed to pay. Closing packages are often 100 pages or more, so there is plenty of room for mistakes and misunderstandings. A real estate attorney will ensure you understand everything in the closing documents, from mortgage payment due dates to interest.
If you’re buying, an attorney can help you make sure any loan documents are prepared accurately, negotiate last-minute financing problems, make sure sellers do not make changes you do not agree with, and more. If you’re selling, a real estate attorney will review the final contract, assist with closing details, and help you with any last-minute title problems such as liens.
Do I Need a Real Estate Attorney in Washington State?
Washington State does not require you to have a lawyer when buying or selling your home, unlike some states. However, you may still want one to help you review the final contract, assist with closing details, or draw up a lease agreement if you plan to rent the home back.
Home sales involving FHA, VA, USDA, or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac typically feature loan documents that can’t be altered. In these cases, it’s all the more important to have a real estate attorney ensure there are no mistakes and you fully understand the terms.
You may also need legal help if problems show up on the title report for a property you are trying to sell, such as a lien on your property. With a real estate lien, a disgruntled creditor or contractor could look to part of your home as a source for debt payment. What’s more, you may have trouble getting as much money for your house or even finding a buyer at all without a “clean” title.
Even if you didn’t willingly choose a lien on your property, there may be one anyway. The federal, state, or local government could impose a tax lien if you don’t pay property taxes on time. If you hire a general contractor to do construction on your property and they fail to pay their subcontractors, the subcontractors could file a lien on your property.
We highly recommend hiring a real estate lawyer for buying homes that are part of an estate sale or foreclosure, have potential structural issues, are located in a natural disaster zone, or have other complexities. If you are a seller, a real estate attorney may be particularly helpful if the property is in distress, your partner is uncooperative, or you are selling for a deceased owner.
Full-Service Real Estate Attorneys in Everett, WA
Anderson Hunter provides full service in real estate matters, including purchasing, selling, development, leasing, and disputes. Our real estate lawyers are highly qualified and experienced with legal matters in Snohomish County.