Your Real Estate attorney helps you fully understand the purchase contract and makes sure that you actually get what you think you’re getting.
The earlier in the home-selling process an attorney is involved, the more value you gain from him or her. Since the purchase contract is a blueprint for closing on your home, it dictates in black and white how the rest of the transaction will unfold. Never accept a buyer’s offer by signing a contract without first having your attorney review it.
CHECKING YOUR TITLE FOR DEFECTS
Because buyers want a title free of major “defects”, which are legal rights to your property claimed by someone other than you, it’s wise to ask your real estate attorney to research the status of title even before you put your home on the market.
Your attorney can issue a title “commitment”, outlining the status of the title, including any major defects as well as any “exceptions” to your ownership. Exceptions are situations where the title owner relinquishes control over a given aspect of the property. For example, you may share a driveway with your neighbor, or the telephone company may have access through an easement to the phone lines running through your yard.
Although you probably already have an owner’s title insurance policy in place, if the buyer’s title agent discovers any defects during a title examination, you’ll need your attorney to resolve them. Should you be forced to defend your ownership in court, your title insurance covers any financial loss because of unfixable defects.
Public records are researched to disclose “obvious” title defects like foreclosures, court judgments, and tax or construction “liens,” which are legal claims on the property that act as security for debt repayment. “Hidden” defects are by definition harder to detect, and can surface even after closing; examples include lost or forged deeds, claims to the property by undisclosed heirs, or simple courthouse clerical errors.
Given all that’s involved during the real estate process- your home, your money, your peace of mind-hiring an attorney is one of the wisest things you can do to protect yourself and your family’s future.