Florida law does not require buyers or sellers to obtain a real estate attorney for closing the sale of a home, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one. Instead, you should consider a real estate closing lawyer to represent your interests in a home buying transaction and protect your rights.
A real estate transaction can prove complex whether you’re a buyer or a seller. It may take weeks or months to complete. With all the time, effort, and money it will require, it’s essential to make sure you don’t waste those resources. A real estate attorney can facilitate the process for buyers and sellers and ensure a satisfactory closing of your home in Florida. Learn more to determine if you need a Vero Beach real estate lawyer to close the sale of a home in Florida.
What Is a Real Estate Lawyer?
A real estate lawyer is a legal professional who prepares, analyzes, and reviews documents used in real estate deals. They have a license to provide legal advice on and represent clients in matters related to the sale or purchase of property. Land, homes, and commercial property deals may all demand the assistance of a real estate lawyer.
Why Might I Need a Real Estate Lawyer to Purchase or Sell a Home in Florida?
Real estate closing attorneys exist to make the home buying or selling experience as seamless as possible and protect your rights and interests. They do that throughout the transaction process to help you close on a home.
Any mistakes you or a real estate agent makes while closing a home can result in unnecessary delays, unexpected costs, and open you up to liability later on. A real estate attorney can help you avoid the pitfalls that cost you dearly. Both your time and money are valuable resources that a lawyer can help you save as you navigate a real estate transaction.
Read on to discover some of the reasons you may want to have an attorney aid you in the closing of a home in Florida:
Take a moment to consider just how much you’re putting on the line when you purchase a home. You might spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and put your credit at risk if you have a loan—not to mention the emotional investment you’re making.
As a home buyer, you’re likely making one of the most significant investments of your life. It wouldn’t make sense to make such a huge investment without the certainty of knowing how to navigate the buying process. The same applies if you are a seller. Again, you’ll likely want someone with experience and knowledge of Florida real estate law on your side to guide you through it.
A real estate closing attorney can explain every step of the process and provide legal advice for every decision you have to make. An attorney can break down your rights, expected duties, and complicated legal documents like the sale contract to ensure you understand what you need to know.
Ironing out the Details of Your Contract
Your lawyer can make sure the other party knows your desires and equitably reflects them in any contracts before you sign at closing. We can thoroughly review all contracts and documents, and your attorney can work with the other party to ensure that they make any agreed-upon changes.
If, as a buyer, you want repairs to the property before closing or if you are providing the house “as is” as a seller, your lawyer can ensure the sale contract covers this in no uncertain terms. Your attorney can review documents and make sure you understand the expectations. Ultimately, a real estate closing lawyer can work with both sides to create a mutually beneficial contract.
Real estate transactions can involve several parties, each of whom you’ll need to interface with at various stages.
Some parties you may need to deal with include:
- The buyer
- The seller
- The title company
- The real estate agent
You may also have to deal with contractors, escrow companies, and others before closing on the property. Communicating and coordinating with each of them may prove a challenge. However, the attorney representing you in your home closing in Florida can handle all the communication and coordination for you. They can ensure that you exchange the necessary information, all parties receive the required documents, money changes hands, and you take all the proper actions at the right time.
Saving You Money in the Long Run
Having someone look out for your best interests in the closing process saves you money. Errors and issues with the contract, undisclosed conflicts (such as deed claims), liens against the property, questionable background information, or overlooked documents can all cost you money. In addition, you may need to file a lawsuit, or worse, face liability for something in the future.
Your real estate closing attorney can catch these issues before money changes hands.
Keep the Process Moving
Sometimes real estate transactions stall. Without a clear understanding of the process, each party’s responsibilities, or who to contact at different stages, your home or profits may remain in limbo. In this circumstance, you may need a real estate lawyer to close a home. Your real estate closing lawyer has a deep understanding of the legal framework, how to coordinate with the various parties involved in your home transaction, and who to communicate with to keep the process moving.
Additionally, an attorney can know how long certain stages of the purchasing process should take. If an excessive amount of time elapses with no progress, your lawyer can advise you of your next steps.
What Can a Real Estate Closing Attorney in Florida Do for Me?
When you hire a real estate attorney to close the sale of a home, you get a legal advocate who should have intimate familiarity with Florida law. Closing attorneys work with buyers and sellers to perform several duties, including the following:
You must meet several key deadlines to successfully close on a home. Missing any legal or contractual deadlines can increase costs and make it difficult for you to hold the other party accountable if something goes wrong with their end of the bargain. Your attorney can manage your closing calendar, staying on top of home inspections, paperwork, repairs, and other things to make sure you meet important deadlines.
One of your Florida real estate closing lawyer’s jobs is to proof every contract and document of your real estate transaction. They must analyze your documents to ensure all parties address the pertinent details to your satisfaction.
They will also comb through the document for unclear language, spelling mistakes, inaccurate information, or typographical errors that may affect your rights and the outcome of your transaction.
Some of the documents a lawyer can review before you close on a home include:
- Title documents
- Settlement statement
- Land survey
- Bill of sale
- The loan application
- Mortgage documents
- Closing disclosures
Explain the Language
You must understand exactly what you agree to when entering a sale contract. A contract can come to several pages long, filled with convoluted and unfamiliar language. You may not understand the law in Florida or standard real estate practices to interpret it accurately. Your attorney can scrutinize your contract and other documents and simplify the language to best suit your understanding. It’s their job to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Meet Legal Requirements
When closing the sale of a home, one of the greatest benefits of having a real estate attorney is having someone make sure you operate according to the law. Failure to meet Florida legal requirements could undermine or void the sale, result in fines or other penalties, cost you money to correct, or expose you to liability.
In addition, your attorney can inform you of your obligations under the law, such as whether zoning restrictions could prevent you from building onto your house or whether you owe documentary stamp taxes.
Research the Title
Some real estate closing lawyers also operate as title companies. That means that in addition to advising you during the home buying or selling process, they can handle the closing of the sale. If your lawyer also provides title services, they can research the title for the property, searching for any claims, liens, or other conflicts with the home that would affect your ownership.
For example, does someone else have rights to the home? Are there any outstanding property taxes? Your lawyer could uncover this information for you and then work to resolve any issues.
A law firm that also works as a title company can provide you with title insurance. The title insurance protects the buyer’s financial investment in the rare event someone else comes with a legal ownership claim to the home. If your closing lawyer offers title services, you don’t need to go to a separate title company to close the deal. Moreover, if there’s an issue with the title, they can address it right away.
Issues a title search can reveal include:
- Heirs who have a legal claim to the property
- Claims to ownership from non-relative third parties, such as a neighbor, a bank, or the state
- Errors with the deed
- Inaccurate descriptions or information about the home
- Forged signatures on official documents
- Liens for unpaid taxes, homeowners association fees or utilities
- Liens from contractors who worked on the home
If your title does not come back clean, your real estate lawyer can advise you of the next course of action you should take. This process can prove simpler if the agreements you sign have built-in contingencies.
What Should a Home Sale Contract Include?
Generally, your sale contract should include any terms you feel to be deal-breakers in your real estate transaction. However, if it’s a matter you simply cannot budge on, you or your lawyer should address it with the other party, ask them to agree to it, and then implement it in writing.
Bear in mind, however, that a contract should offer mutual benefits. In some areas, you may have to compromise on or consent to the other party to get something you want. Your closing attorney can know how to navigate this and negotiate a fair agreement before you close the sale of a Florida home. Some other stipulations that should go into your sale contract include:
A Home Inspection Before Closing
Performing a certified home inspection can protect both buyer and seller from future problems. For example, inspecting the roof, flooring, foundation, wiring, or plumbing can reveal any undisclosed issues with the property and allow the opportunity to address them. It also eliminates any surprises that could lead a buyer to file a lawsuit for undisclosed defects in the future.
Who Handles Repairs and How to Handle Them
You should have an agreement about who will handle the repairs if you notice defects in the home. Many contracts stipulate that the seller will make the repairs or cover the costs of the repairs that a buyer will make.
Contingencies to Back out of the Sale
If certain aspects of the deal do not go as planned, you’ll need a way to back out. A contract should have contingencies built into it. For example, if the inspection reveals problems with the home that you cannot reconcile with as a buyer or the title comes back with issues, you should have the ability to cancel the sale.
You Don’t Have to Close on Your Home in Florida Without a Real Estate Lawyer
Florida may not require you to use a real estate attorney to close the sale of a home but having one can prove a wise decision. It’s important to protect your bottom line during a real estate transaction and ensure you have every advantage you might need. Your closing attorney keeps your best interest at heart, provides legal guidance, and makes the entire process smoother. Reach out to a Vero Beach lawyer for more information.