5 Times You May Need An Attorney To Help You Buy Or Sell A Home
If you are in the market to purchase a home, you probably already know you should start shopping for a real estate agent and mortgage lender. But, do you also need a lawyer?
It isn’t common for people to hire an attorney when purchasing a house, but in some situations, it could be extremely beneficial, especially if this is your first home purchase. Having an attorney advise you on important contract terms and to explain the usual procedure and confusing legal terms can make the home-buying process go smoother.
Below are five occasions when you may need an attorney to help you buy or sell a house:
1. If Contract Issues Pop Up Between Buyer and Seller
Most times a purchase or sale flies through without problems. However, if they do arise, you may need a lawyer to help you sort them out.
For example, the seller waffles on the price after they signed the contract with you (possibly because they have received a better offer). In this instance, an attorney can help you force them to live up to the contract they signed.
2. “For Sale By Owner” Transaction
If you choose to sell your home on your own — without a realtor — you need an attorney to help you draw up the contract and other necessary legal documents. This is not the time for do-it-yourself legal work.
3. When A Title Issue Arises
In the process of closing the sale, the title company may discover an issue over unpaid debts, liens, or other issues about whether the seller has good title to convey.
One example is a judgment lien filed against the seller’s family home. In Texas, such a lien against the homestead is invalid, and you can force it to be removed with the assistance of an attorney.
Another example includes property still held in the title of a deceased person, where legal proceedings may be necessary to establish who are the heirs and to have them execute the deed to the buyer. Or, the seller may have gotten divorced, but their ex-spouse’s name is still on the title. A lawyer can help clean up these issues.
4. When Purchasing A Foreclosed Property
You may think purchasing a home that has been foreclosed will be a bargain, but there are inherent risks that accompany foreclosed properties.
If you are purchasing a foreclosed home, have an attorney review the foreclosure proceeding and make sure all of the legal requirements to get you a good title have been met.
5. When Using A Contract For Deed Or Lease-Purchase Option
These types of purchase or sale options are now extremely disfavored under Texas law. A real estate lawyer will usually highly discourage using this form of contract at all because it is fraught with dangers for both the buyer and seller.
If you insist on using one of these types of contracts, you absolutely must have an attorney draw up the documents to be assured all of the strict statutory requirements have been met.
Failure to meet these requirements can impose very substantial penalties on the seller. If you are the buyer, you want an attorney to explain to you the conditions under which you could lose all of the money you have paid and still not acquire the property.
If you are buying or selling a home and would like to discuss whether an attorney might be of assistance to you, request a free initial consultation* with Adair M. Buckner.
*(The free consultation does not cover actual review of documents or giving legal advice on a specific situation.)