How much a real estate attorney costs varies widely. It is difficult to predict how much you might pay (or how much an attorney would charge for their services) without knowing more about your circumstances. A good way to learn how much it costs to hire a real estate attorney in Vero Beach is to contact a firm and discuss your options with its team.
Many people consider working with a lawyer when they have complex real estate transactions or need help with a property sale or purchase. A property law attorney can help you navigate your transaction, ensure it goes smoothly, and handle any complications. They generally charge a flat fee or by the hour for their services.
Real Estate Attorney Fees and How They Work
Real estate lawyers often have hourly fees, billing clients who come to them for advice, guidance, contract reviews, and more. This rate varies widely based on many factors, including the attorney’s experience and the complexity of the case.
How many hours it takes to handle an issue, transaction, or another task is also dependent on the details of the case. There is no way to estimate either of these factors, making it impossible to know how much it would cost to hire a real estate lawyer. An attorney should explain their fees and ensure you feel comfortable with them from the beginning of your partnership.
In many cases, attorneys charge a flat fee for some services.
These services may include:
- Preparing closing documents
- Reviewing a contract
- Ensuring a deed is clear
- Acting as the title company
- Overseeing a property’s closing
- Communicating with the involved parties
- Advising you on any financial-related matters
- Protecting you from unscrupulous real estate practices
For example, if you consider hiring a Vero Beach, Florida, or Sebastian, Florida, lawyer to handle your paperwork preparation, the law firm could charge you a flat rate. This rate could depend on the property sale amount, the complexity of the sale, or other factors. As noted, the flat fee could also vary from client to client.
What Is the Role of a Real Estate Attorney?
While putting an accurate cost on a real estate attorney’s services is impossible without more information, they play a straightforward role in these matters. They provide support, guidance, and advocacy for buyers and sellers during property transactions. They also represent homeowners facing foreclosure and help landlords evict tenants when necessary.
If you have questions or concerns about why you need real estate lawyer, about Florida real estate law or want support navigating a certain proceeding, you could benefit from representation. This is true even if you work with an experienced real estate agent. Certain legal situations make it difficult for agents to help their clients because they do not have the knowledge or experience—or ethical right—to speak on the topic.
When real estate transactions become complex (or there are legal issues you do not know how to unravel), calling an attorney can be a good idea. These transactions depend greatly on several contracts, including the sales agreement, mortgage agreement, promissory note, and more. This is why several states require an attorney to handle the closing.
Florida is not one of these states, but most title companies, real estate agents, and others recommend having a lawyer present to promote a smooth legal process.
Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Attorney for Buyers
A real estate attorney can manage the property buyer’s process and transaction from beginning to end. Some buyers hire a real estate attorney before they choose a property or pre-apply for a mortgage. This gives them a resource to call when they have questions or concerns. While some people use a law firm instead of a real estate agent, many hire both. They perform different tasks, and hiring each comes with its own benefits.
When a buyer looks for a home or other property to purchase, their real estate attorney protects their rights. They help them understand the property’s value, what a fair offer might look like, and any complexities related to the particular property.
Once the buyer chooses a property, the attorney negotiates for a fair price and can prepare the sales agreement. They review this agreement and each of its clauses with their client.
These terms include:
- How much the parties set for a sales price
- How long the buyer has to get a mortgage approved
- If there are contingencies
- What will happen if repairs are necessary
- Who will pay for repairs
The attorney often suggests adding specific clauses to protect the buyer’s interests. This could include allowing a home inspection, having the seller provide title insurance, and more. The necessary clauses in this agreement depend greatly on the circumstances of the sale.
Some Real Estate Attorneys Manage Title Insurance
Real estate attorneys often serve as title companies, too. They search the property’s ownership history, any liens or loans against it, and other transitions to ensure a clean deed. They could also offer title insurance to the buyers based on the clear deed. This is a good idea because it protects their investment in case an issue jeopardizes their legal purchase of the property later.
Throughout this process, they deal with any unusual issues that occur. They help with complex purchases, concerns with the mortgage company, or problems with the home that require immediate repair.
Real Estate Attorneys Oversee Closing
When a real estate lawyer represents a buyer, this could include handling all document preparation for the closing. Closing occurs when all parties meet in person (or virtually) and sign the paperwork to finalize the sale. For the buyer, this will include the mortgage agreement, promissory note, deed, and other necessary paperwork.
The attorney guides this process and explains each document before prompting the buyer to sign. After all signatures are complete, the attorney can present the buyer with the settlement sheet for their new Florida property. This sheet outlines the transaction.
The attorney explains:
- The agreed-on sales price
- Any agreed-on credits or debits
- Any money included for repairs
- Title insurance premiums
- Any fees, such as for the real estate agent
At the end of the meeting, the attorney’s office handles filing the mortgage and deed paperwork with the Indian River County Clerk or the appropriate court. This is the last step in finalizing the sale, officially recording the new owner of the property and the mortgage secured.
Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer for Sellers
Sellers can opt to hire a real estate lawyer to protect their interests and help them sell their property. Like buyers, sellers also benefit from the knowledge, experience, advice, and guidance of an attorney well-versed in navigating this process.
This includes dealing with issues many sellers face, such as:
- When to make repairs
- Legal obligations related to selling a property “as is”
- Settling other claims to the property
- Modifying any real estate contracts
- Drafting any contingencies related to the sale
- Explaining the ins and outs of real estate law
While each circumstance differs somewhat, many real estate attorneys also act as the title company. They work with the seller to gather information about the property and clear the title. This requires them to investigate any possible liens or other claims to the land or home.
Real estate attorneys are also available to sellers when there is a complication or challenge that occurs during the transaction. This is not unusual, and the lawyer can assure you it is no reason to panic. They know how to solve many complex legal issues, even when a real estate agent is unsure where to turn.
A Real Estate Attorney Can Prepare Any Property-Related Contracts
When the parties reach an agreement on a sales price, the attorney often prepares the contract. This contract includes many clauses that outline each party’s obligations.
The lawyer recommends adding clauses to protect the seller’s interests, such as:
- The buyer accepts the property as is.
- The seller has a right to terminate the contract if the buyer does not have a mortgage by a certain deadline.
- The seller can accept a higher offer before the close of a sale contingent on the buyer’s home sale.
The law firm often oversees the closing proceedings in these transactions. This includes preparing and reviewing all necessary documents, discussing them with those involved, and filing the necessary paperwork to finalize and record the transaction.
Document Preparation for Real Estate Transactions
Even when buyers and sellers are confident in their ability to handle a transaction without an agent, they need someone to ensure they have the necessary documents signed and filed to officially complete the sale.
One of the services most commonly provided by real estate attorneys is document preparation. This is important because real estate transactions rely on several legal documents and contracts.
The document-related services available from a property law attorney could include:
- Writing or reviewing the sales agreement
- Suggesting additional clauses based on their client’s needs
- Reviewing proposed clauses from the other party
- Explaining what the document means line by line
- Reviewing mortgage agreements and other third-party contracts
- Preparing all closing documents
- Explaining each document during the closing meeting
- Reviewing the settlement sheet with the client
Some states require an attorney to be present at closing because of the complexity and number of legal documents involved. Florida does not, but many title companies still use one to oversee the process because of their knowledge of contracts and the law.
When the law firm also acts as the title company, it becomes a one-stop shop for closing documents and other necessary paperwork. This usually comes as part of a flat fee package where the firm hosts the closing, prepares the documents, leads the meeting, and handles filing paperwork with the appropriate court clerk afterward.
Real Estate Attorneys Help Homeowners Fight Foreclosure
When a homeowner struggles to pay their mortgage and is a month or more behind, the lender can begin the first steps toward foreclosure. Foreclosure is the legal proceeding that forces a homeowner from their property and allows the mortgage holder to sell it. This is not the preferred outcome for either party but could be the only way for the bank to protect its interests in some cases.
If you are a month or more behind on your mortgage and want help weighing your options, a real estate attorney can help. They know from experience the strategies that work for their clients, and they understand how lenders work with borrowers to help them.
Some services an attorney could provide in this situation include:
- Getting a forbearance and deferment, allowing them to move several payments to the end of their mortgage term
- Negotiating new mortgage terms, including a lower rate or longer term
- Refinancing with another lender
- A payment plan to catch up on missed payments
- A plan to sell the home
- Protecting homeowners from unfair legal proceedings, such as unlawful eviction
Real estate attorneys know how this process works. Florida law has strict rules for how the lender must proceed with a foreclosure, including notifying the party of their intent to begin official proceedings only after their payment is 120 days late. An attorney can represent you in these proceedings or help you seek an alternative to foreclosure based on the unique facts of your case.
Connect With a Real Estate Attorney to Discuss Your Options
A good way to learn more about how a lawyer can navigate your real estate transaction (or deal with related issues) is by speaking with one. They can explain the benefits of getting legal help and address any concerns related to your situation.
Some attorneys can discuss your needs and real estate law concerns during a free consultation. This could include answering questions about how much it costs to hire a real estate attorney. Contact us today to get your consultation.