A real estate lawyer can help agents provide their clients with the highest level of service. Real estate agents may need a real estate attorney to protect their client’s rights, offer answers to legal concerns, help them navigate complex transactions, and ensure they manage their contracts correctly. Real estate transactions require several actions that must strictly follow Florida law every time. An attorney can help. With a real estate attorney, agents can provide additional support and guidance to buyers and sellers alike. If you are an agent or broker in Vero Beach or elsewhere in Indian River County, consider how a real estate lawyer might enhance your ability to buy and sell homes and navigate complex transactions.
How a Real Estate Law Firm Can Help You Better Serve Your ClientsWhen someone buys or sells a Vero Beach, FL home, they often rely on their real estate agent to provide the answers to all their questions. They assume you are the expert on what they must do and how to protect their interests. While you know what it takes to market and sell properties, you probably haven’t thought much about Florida real estate law since you took your exam. Even then, real estate agents only have to know the basics to ensure they follow the laws during transactions. You did not have to take courses on complex transactions, disputes, significant title concerns, or other issues your clients could encounter. Having an attorney on your side and on-call can help if you run into a problem and make your day-to-day work easier. Real estate law changes as quickly as the market. A Florida lawyer working for you can protect you, your client, and your reputation.
Legal Issues for Real Estate Agents and Their Clients in FloridaWhen a real estate lawyer represents an agent, they provide protection and information for the agent and their clients. Depending on the circumstances, their knowledge and experience working within Florida real estate law primarily benefits the agent or both the agent and their client.
For Your ProtectionYour real estate license is your business. Without it, you could not buy and sell homes, work with your clients, and earn an income. An attorney feels the same way about their license from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. It represents their livelihood. Their license, firm, and reputation are worth protecting. To this end, a real estate lawyer could help you protect your business. This includes:
- Double-Checking the Listing Agreement: Some agents use a standard listing agreement for every client, but changes can sometimes prove necessary. Your standard agreement and any unique contracts must properly outline your exclusive right to sale, the length of the deal, your fees, and when you will receive them. Overlooking any of these could make it difficult to enforce the agreement during a transaction.
- Understanding and Upholding Your Duties: Knowing what you must do, when, and how is key in limiting contract disputes. You need a clear plan for resolving conflicts in your contract. An attorney can help with this. Upholding all duties as your contract outlines can prevent the seller from voiding the sale if you do not.
- Understanding Issues Related to Data Security Breaches: Real estate brokers must keep their client’s personal data secure. Failure to do so could result in a claim against them. A lawyer can tell you how to handle data security and what to do if your system fails, leading to a breach. A lawyer can represent agents in these claims, as well.
- Preventing You From Giving Tax or Legal Advice: Buyers and sellers do not understand that real estate agents cannot offer tax advice or guidance on making decisions based on Florida law. However, real estate lawyers can. Having an attorney on your side makes it easy to help your clients get the answers they need without violating the law or telling them you cannot answer their questions.
- Representing You in Claims Against Agents: Sometimes, disputes occur, and a client or another party may file a claim against you. If this happens, your real estate lawyer can represent you in this case. They could get a positive outcome for you through negotiations, arbitration, mediation, or representing you in court and fighting to clear your name and protect your reputation.
For Your Client’s ProtectionWhen you have an attorney on call to help, they protect your client’s rights, your license, and reputation. You want to give your client’s the highest level of representation and service possible, and an attorney can help. This can include providing support, advice, and representation related to:
- Disclosures: Sellers must disclose any known defects on the property and other significant information. For example, Florida Statutes § 720.401 requires disclosing information about homeowner’s associations (HOAs). An attorney can ensure sellers understand this duty and help buyers hold them legally responsible when they fail to do so. Lawyers can also offer legal advice about a disclosure’s necessity under Florida law.
- The Sales Agreement: When you do not have an attorney working with you, you must explain all the paperwork your client must sign, each clause in the sales agreement, and the settlement sheet. Some of this legal language can become complex, and incorrectly explaining it could open you up to the possibility of a dispute. A lawyer will take the time to ensure you and your client fully understand all the legal language and documents involved in the real estate transaction.
- Clear Titles and Title Insurance: Without a clear title, no transaction can proceed. The title company must ensure a clear title, but if they have issues with the process, it can significantly affect your client’s experience and your own. When a law firm acts as a title company, it can investigate any claims or liens on the property before proceeding with the sale. They can also offer advice about clearing claims and investing in title insurance.
Real Estate Attorneys Help Agents Navigate Complex TransactionsMany property sales progress smoothly and quickly, with no real hiccups. This could prove especially true if you worked for a long time as an agent with experience in many different types of sales. You could navigate contingency agreements and negotiate repair costs on your own. However, some transactions can prove much more complex than they initially seem. When this occurs, agents can feel overwhelmed and unprepared as they try to figure out how to handle it. Instead of asking others or diving into a lot of legal research, seeking guidance from your real estate attorney will ensure you get the correct answers quickly. At the same time, you will learn more about real estate law and know how to better approach a similar situation next time. In this way, working with an attorney can help your reputation and credibility to buyers and sellers. This can prove especially important since some of these complex situations can prove more likely for buyers and sellers investing or divesting commercial properties or high-value estates. An attorney can often help an agent or broker navigate:
- Deals involving multiple parties
- Sales involving land trusts
- Commercial real estate transactions with lessees and lease modifications
- Large-scale investments
Some Real Estate Attorneys Handle All Title Company TasksSome title companies have real estate attorneys on staff. Working with lawyers ensures your client’s title is truly clear, and you significantly lower the risk of a claim against the property after closing. Agents may complain about title clerks and title companies who lose documents, do not thoroughly look into any claims against a property, and overlook issues that could later cause the buyer to lose their investment or fight in court to keep it. Many agents stick with the same title company for many of their transactions because they found a clerk they like who seems to get the job done. What if an attorney was taking care of this process? Would you feel more confident? This may prove an option for you if you work with an attorney whose firm also acts as a title company. They can:
- Gather all necessary documents
- Investigate any possible claims or liens
- Issue a clear title
- Manage the closing
- Handle filing the paperwork with the county following the closing
What About Title Insurance?A real estate attorney can discuss title insurance with you and your clients, including outlining the circumstances when it may prove necessary and how much a buyer should insure their property for. In some cases, this amount could be more than the property’s purchase price. Your lawyer could help you negotiate this amount with the seller. Some real estate attorneys can even give you and your client a quote for title insurance. If your seller or buyer has questions about title insurance or the details in a particular policy, your attorney can go over this with them. You will also learn how these policies work through this process and could answer questions your clients have in the future, as long as they do not require legal advice.
A Real Estate Lawyer Can Represent Your Client When You Face an IssueUnfortunately, disputes do occur as a regular part of real estate transactions. Your attorney can represent you or your client in these disagreements, working to prevent litigation or helping you manage litigation if it occurs. Some common disagreements revolve around:
- The buying or selling of the home
- The financial transaction and agreement
- The right to possess the property or live in the home
- The quality of the home and undisclosed issues
- Development plans and concerns
- Contract breaches
- Necessary repairs
- Boundary disputes
- Insurance claims and disputes
- Undisclosed liens or other concerns