Why Use An Attorney

Top Five Reasons to Speak With an Attorney When You Buy a House

You don't buy a house every day. So when you finally decide on that terrific new home, get off to a good start: Speak with an attorney.

How does using an attorney benefit you? Hundreds of ways. But here are five of the most important:

1. Get the Property You Pay For

Accurate land records are critical to sound real estate transactions. Yet, in the northeastern states, tracing the ownership and description of each piece of property is enormously complicated.

Why? Because states that were among the country's 13 original colonies have always kept land records based on the old English system, rather than the simpler "tract" system used by states that came later. This means that each property must be searched by tracing the names of past owners and comparing the legal descriptions of the property.

Verifying these land records is challenging and exacting. Licensed attorneys, with their specialized knowledge and experience, are best equipped to verify key facts, property information necessary to obtain title insurance, and advise you of any circumstances that might affect your purchase.

2. Make Your Best Deal

Unexpected issues often arise at the time of closing, and they must be resolved through negotiation. In the Northeast, the seller in a real estate transaction typically is represented by an attorney at closing. You - the buyer - are on equal footing during these negotiations only if you have your own attorney on hand to provide advice and counsel.

And, because attorneys typically take advantage of new technologies to streamline the closing process, your attorney-assisted closing probably won't cost any more than a non-attorney closing in other regions of the country.

3. Avoid Legal Pitfalls

Property law has never been simple. But with new municipal, state and federal laws being enacted all the time, real estate transactions are more complex than ever. Lead paint, environmental pollution, buried oil tanks, encroachments, land use restrictions, and zoning issues are just a few of the potential pitfalls in any closing. Buyers and sellers alike need competent, independent legal counsel to overcome them successfully.

4. Take Advantage of Proven Expertise

A custom becomes a tradition when it's widely recognized as the most effective way to get something done. That's how attorneys came to be the principal providers of closing services in the first place, and why smart buyers, sellers, and lenders continue to engage them.

The fact is that verifying title, preparing and explaining deeds, and executing sound real estate transactions are inseparable from the practice of law. Only licensed attorneys have the education, the resources and - in some states - the statutory authority to handle those responsibilities on your behalf.

5. Spend Money Wisely

Perhaps you purchased a home sometime in the past without the services of an attorney. If you look at your closing costs for that purchase, adjust for inflation, and compare the figures to what an attorney-assisted closing would cost today, you may be pleasantly surprised. It hardly costs more to use an attorney. And when you consider the value of having your own legal expert by your side as you make this major purchase, the question isn't whether you can afford to engage an attorney, it's whether you can afford not to.

Helpful Hints for Selecting an Attorney

  • Contact the local bar association for names of attorneys who practice real estate law.
  • Ask friends, family and co-workers for the names of attorneys they would recommend.
  • If you're new to the area, ask Realtors® and lenders for recommendations.
  • Contact several attorneys, explain that you're a prospective client, and ask for a brief interview at no charge, simply to meet him or her and to inquire about services and fees (not to obtain specific legal advice).
  • Select the attorney whose fees fit your budget, whose personal style matches your own, and in whom you can readily place your confidence.