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 When Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney?

Real estate can be tricky. Even the average home purchase can be overwhelming in the sheer number of details that must be attended to. For most people, real estate is the financial largest investment they’ll ever make. It is completely normal for something to come up that leaves you wondering whether you should hire a real estate lawyer. We’ll go over some of the common situations where it might be best to have professional legal help.

Buying or Selling a Home

One of the most frequently asked questions in this area is, “Do I need a real estate attorney to buy or sell a house?” Some states legally require that real estate transactions be reviewed by an attorney—California does not. Formal requirements aside, whether or not you need an attorney depends on the situation.

As an example, consider an ordinary house purchase. Both the buyer and seller have great real estate agents, the house is in good condition, there are no liens on the property, etc. Do you need a real estate lawyer in this situation? Probably not. Bear in mind, though, that as the value of the property goes up, or if you are from out of town/out of state, it becomes a better idea to hire an attorney just to make sure everything is in order.

It is definitely more advisable to use a real estate attorney if there are any non-standard issues surrounding the transaction. For buyers, these non-standard issues can include:

–        The home is owned by the bank

–        It’s being sold as part of an estate sale

–        There are tenants currently living on the property

–        The land is in a flood zone, tornado-prone area, etc.

For sellers, common issues include:

–        The home is part of a divorce settlement

–        It’s part of an estate of which you are the executor

–        A short sale (selling for less than you owe on the mortgage)

–        Liens on the property

–        Major physical damage to the property

The list could go on and on, but the key point is this: Anything out of the ordinary should drive you to reach out to an attorney and better understand what you’re getting into. Of course, many people would prefer to avoid the cost of hiring a lawyer, but when considered as a fraction of the total price of the home and how much trouble (and money) it can save you down the road, it’s really a minor expense.

Real Estate Disputes

Whether you are a homeowner, a renter, or an HOA director, there are a wide variety of legal disputes that can pop up and disrupt your life. These range from seller non-disclosure issues to prescriptive easements to property title claims. For anyone involved in a real estate dispute and whose home or property value is on the line, we recommend contacting an attorney immediately. Any delay could prejudice your case due to statutes of limitations and other filing deadlines.

Contact a San Diego Real Estate Attorney Today

If you’re asking yourself whether you need a real estate attorney, chances are you should at least sit down for a consultation. Contact our office today to set an appointment.

Written By

Hoffman & Forde