The Real Estate Encyclopedia
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Buy a House?
Category - Home Buying Questions - Buying Legal & Closing FAQ's

It is always advisable for a buyer to have access to his/her own attorney when conducting an important transaction, such as the purchase of a home. 

Hiring an attorney depends on the state you are moving to.  Some states require a real estate closing attorney handle the closing process.  In this case, the buyer’s broker will recommend the “closing attorney” or the buyer may designate the attorney of his/her choice.  If the buyer selects the closing attorney, he/she must be sure that the closing attorney is a real estate attorney, well versed in the intricacies involved in the purchase of a home.  Even when the transaction is handled by a real estate attorney recommended by the agent, this should not preclude the buyer from consulting his/her private attorney with questions related to the sale.

In states where a real estate attorney is not required to handle the closing, state law usually allows real estate agents to complete standard "fill-in-the-blanks" purchase contracts. Real estate agents cannot provide legal advice unless they hold a law degree.  In these states, the agent may be required to draft the purchase agreement, research the title history, and confirm compliance with government regulations or draft and review documents. They usually accompany buyers to the closing.

In states where lawyers are involved, the agent may be responsible for drafting the purchase agreement, research the title history, ensure compliance with government regulations and draft and review documents.  In addition, the agent will make sure all contract requirements are met, all contingencies removed and all timelines observed and provide instructions to the closing attorney regarding the real estate commission. Most of the time, when a closing attorney is involved, the attorney’s staff handles the title search through a title company and ensures compliance with all state requirements for a successful closing.  The agent usually accompanies the buyer to the closing.

In many states where real estate attorneys act as closing agents, the attorney is considered to work for the lender and not the buyer or seller.  Thus, the lender’s agent will directly be involved with the attorney’s office in handling the transaction.


Home Buying Questions - Buying Legal & Closing FAQ's
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