Buying a home can be overwhelming. It may be the biggest financial purchase you’ve ever made, and to complicate matters, there are a large number of people involved. With all the real estate agents, inspectors, mortgage brokers, and appraisers taking part in the process, you may feel reluctant to take on the additional expense of working with a real estate attorney if it isn’t required in your state.
However, working with a lawyer for your house purchase could prevent serious problems down the road. Keep reading to find out when it makes sense to hire a real estate attorney.
What Do Real Estate Attorneys Do?
Real estate attorneys are trained to address a wide variety of issues surrounding real estate and property interactions. They often handle documents such as purchase agreements, mortgage documents, title documents, and transfer documents. They can also help clients understand tax and tenant-related legal issues.
In the context of purchasing a home, real estate attorneys may assist with anything from understanding the implications of a tax lien on the property to closing on a house, although this is not required in most states.
In addition to assisting home buyers and sellers, real estate lawyers can help in situations like the following:
- Landlord/Tenant Representation
- Commercial and Residential Representation
- Boundary Disputes
- Foreclosure and Forfeiture
- Land Use and Development
- Lien Law
- Adverse Possession
- Condominium Articles and Bylaws
- Forming a Homeowners’ Association
When Do You Need an Attorney to Buy a House?
In most U.S. states, including Washington, you are not required to hire a real estate attorney to purchase a house. The main exceptions are the east coast states (except Virginia and Maryland), as well as Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia. These states each have different requirements for involving a legal professional in a property sale.
However, you may wish to work with a real estate attorney even in states where it is not required if you are concerned about a specific legal issue. For example, many home buyers hire an attorney if there is a tenant living on part of the property or if a tax lien has been imposed on the property.
Real estate attorneys can provide invaluable help any time there is complex legal language or an atypical situation.
Common Legal Issues When Buying a Home
- Contract disputes can occur in the time between the initial contract signing and the sale completion. One of the parties involved in the sale may dispute aspects of the contract such as the purchase price, condition of the property, closing date and costs, type of deed, or other aspects of the contract that they believe were misrepresented.
- False advertising can have serious consequences, especially in real estate. Real estate advising must comply with state license regulations and provide an accurate depiction of your property, including on the internet.
- Misrepresentation of any feature of the property, whether intentional or unintentional, can cause serious legal repercussions for the seller or their representative. Misrepresentation may include unmentioned or misstated foundation issues, property boundaries, and any environmental problems on the property.
Where Can You Find a Great Real Estate Attorney in Western Washington?
Anderson Hunter Law Firm includes several experienced real estate lawyers who can provide well-informed legal counsel, negotiation, drafting, and litigation services for a wide range of real estate issues. We are based in Everett and provide full service in real estate matters. Schedule a free consultation today to learn how we can help with your situation.