When to Hire a Real Estate Attorney

Buying a home is a significant investment and involves a series of complex transactions between a buyer and seller. Both parties must survey and sign several contractual agreements to legally transfer property from one entity to another. However, it is common for buyers and sellers to need the help of an expert to navigate their closing documents. Real estate litigation attorneys work to review documents and contracts related to property sales, making the closing process easier for all parties involved. Read below to learn when to hire a real estate attorney and how Ritter Spencer Cheng can advise individuals and businesses through real estate litigation.

What is a Real Estate Attorney?

A real estate attorney is a professional that is well-educated and experienced in the legal aspects of acquiring and selling real estate. Certified real estate attorneys help streamline real estate transactions by preparing and reviewing documents related to purchase agreements, mortgage documents, title documents, and transfer documents. They can also lead legal disputes involving property taxes, estate planning, zoning, and titles. 

Both buyers and sellers in today’s market can hire a real estate attorney to represent their interests during a home purchase. Sometimes, these attorneys are hired at the beginning of the transaction to oversee the process from start to finish. Other times, real estate attorneys are only summoned when there is a dispute later in the property transaction, such as chain of title or lot line problems. If a buyer or seller hires a real estate attorney, their lawyer will most likely be present for the closing process, where the buyer pays their money, and the title is transferred. 

Are Real Estate Attorneys Required to Buy or Sell a Home?

Home buyers and sellers only sometimes have the choice of hiring a real estate attorney. Some states require the presence of lawyers during real estate closings to prevent real estate agents from practicing law without a legal license to do so. The following states require real estate lawyers for home and property closings or title certifications:

        • Alabama
        • Connecticut
        • Delaware
        • District of Columbia
        • Georgia
        • Kansas
        • Kentucky
        • Maine
        • Maryland
        • Massachusetts
        • Mississippi
        • New Hampshire
        • New Jersey
        • New York
        • North Dakota
        • Pennsylvania
        • Rhode Island
        • South Carolina
        • Vermont
        • Virginia
        • West Virginia

It’s important to note that real estate attorney requirements can vary by region within the above-mentioned states. 

When Do I Need a Real Estate Attorney? 

As mentioned, some states require real estate attorneys to be present during the home closing process. However, for buyers and sellers who live in states without these requirements, it is their choice to hire a real estate attorney. The decision to hire a real estate attorney may depend on the individual’s knowledge of real estate law. But regardless of one’s preexisting knowledge of real estate legalities, it is advised to have an attorney present during the closing process to protect the buyer or seller’s legal rights. Read below for more reasons to hire a real estate attorney. 

Reasons for home buyers to hire a real estate attorney:

        • The buyer is from out of town.
        • The buyer is purchasing a property that is a short sale or bank-owned.
        • The buyer is purchasing a property in an estate sale.
        • The buyer is purchasing a commercial property.
        • The buyer is purchasing a property with potential structural issues.
        • The buyer is purchasing a property in an adverse area, like a flood zone.

Reasons for home sellers to hire a real estate attorney:

        • The seller is selling the property in poor condition.
        • The seller inherited the property from a deceased owner.
        • The seller is selling property with an uncooperative partner.
        • The seller has judgments or liens on the property.

Ritter Spencer Cheng has a team of real estate litigation attorneys in Dallas, Texas, who can help property owners navigate their housing disputes. Our experienced attorneys develop practical and actionable strategies to aid fraudulent real estate sales, commercial lease disputes, resident and property owner disputes, and more. Learn more about our practice areas by connecting with our team of real estate litigation attorneys at Ritter Spencer Cheng today.