Given the amount of money and paperwork involved, and the repercussions of items going amiss, real estate transactions should not be taken lightly. Regardless of whether you’re buying, selling, or refinancing, it’s important that you seek the expertise of a real estate lawyer to ensure that things go smoothly. Their work behind the scenes – including paper filing, protecting your rights in contract, and problem solving – will mean that you can focus on the items that matter most.
In this article, we’re going to explore the complex space of real estate lawyers, discussing what they do and how you should go about selecting one for your next real estate transaction. Given the importance of the work that follows, it’s critical that you take the time necessary to understand your needs and select the best lawyer available.
What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
Put simply, the duties of a real estate lawyer will vary depending on the type of transaction you’re bringing them on board to assist with. For most individuals, there are only one of three options: buying, selling or refinancing. Let’s explore what real estate lawyers bring to table for each.
For the purposes of buying, you’ll want to engage with a real estate lawyer the moment you’re ready to sign the Offer to Purchase. From there, your lawyer will be responsible for conducting a title search, obtaining title insurance, registering the house in your name, drawing up the statement of adjustments, and facilitating the financial transaction on your closing day.
For the purpose of selling, your lawyer will be responsible for conducting another title search. In addition to that, they’ll draft the deed of the home for your buyer, calculate closing costs owed and draft a Statement of Adjustments for you, and facilitate the financial transaction on your closing day.
Similar to the other two scenarios, the refinancing process will begin with the lawyer conducting a title search to ensure that the property is clear of defects – protecting both you and the lender. From there, they’ll register the new mortgage amount and facilitate the financial transaction. This is done using a Trust Ledger Statement that you lawyer will draft for the bank.
At What Point in The Process Do I Contact a Real Estate Lawyer?
As with the lawyer duties, contact times will vary depending on the type of transaction support you need from your lawyer. For buyers and sellers, it’s important that you contact a real estate lawyer the moment you’re ready to sign an Offer to Purchase. This legal document is incredibly important to the transaction – and binding – and so it’s important to have a lawyer review it and adjust any errors. If you’re refinancing, you’ll only need your lawyer for the purpose of signing & finalizing the paperwork required for the next mortgage
What Should I Look for In a Real Estate Lawyer?
Although many real estate lawyers exist, there are a few key items you’re going to want to consider before making a selection:
● Lawyer specialty. Ensure that they’re experienced in real estate law.
● Competitive fees. You don’t want to overpay, but extremely low fees may be an indication of inexperience.
● Experience. Ensure that they have worked with properties and situations similar to yours before.
Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer about their experience, or better yet, to ask for past-client references. This can be an incredibly helpful way to assess their abilities and to ensure that they are the right fit for the work you need to have completed. As a side note, ensuring that you have a trained lawyer for house closing will be important in creating a smooth process, so don’t overlook this step!
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer?
Fees for real estate lawyers will vary depending on a few key factors, including the complexity of the purchase/sale/refinancing transaction and the lawyer’s level of expertise. For most real estate lawyers, your payment structure will start with a base fee that’s based on the type of home being dealt with – whether it be a condo, detached semi-detached, or other. From there, you should expect to pay for any disbursements – items such as faxing, photocopying, etc. – and registration fees. Although all of these variables will result in different legal fees, you should anticipate to spend somewhere in the range of $1,500 for complete service.
What Is the Difference Between Title Registration and Title Insurance?
Title registration and title insurance cover both the front and back end of title transfer for a home that’s being purchased. Title registration is the simple process of changing the home’s title from the seller’s name to yours.
Title insurance, on the other hand, is designed to protect you from liability should an undetected title defect be found after the transaction has been completed. As an example, if there is a violation of the municipal zoning bylaws, an outstanding work order, property taxes in arrears or any unmentioned encroachments on adjoining property, this may have a serious impact on your title. Both title insurance fees and registration fees are paid on closing day, and it’s critical that close attention be paid to both to ensure that the transfer of ownership is successful and that you’re protected should any issues arise.
Regardless of the type of real estate engagement you’re involved in, it’s important to ensure that you’re protected from undue harm and only processing paperwork that has been thoroughly reviewed. From selling to buying to refinancing, there are many ways in which a real estate transaction can go awry, and without expert legal support, you and your family will be overly exposed to risk. From the moment you begin down the path of real estate, it’s critical that you have reliable, expert support that is capable of keeping things on track.
To learn more about the Seif Law team, our process, or our real estate legal services, contact our team today!