Most people do not navigate the buying and selling of real estate frequently enough to understand the process or know how to look out for their best interests. In addition, real estate laws are often complex, and it can prove more challenging than you might think to buy or sell your own home, especially if you want to do it on your own.
A Florida real estate lawyer can help sellers, buyers, property owners, and lessees. They may work with corporations, individuals, or both of them. They can offer advice, ensure you get the best deal, and even help you understand title insurance, and digital closing procedures.
What Can Real Estate Lawyers Do for Buyers?
Many people opt to work with real estate agents to find a new home or other property. This can prove a great choice, and many attorneys work closely with these brokers to ensure their shared clients get the best deal on their purchases. Many prospective buyers choose to handle their search thanks to high-tech tools, including online listings.
Whether you have an agent or not, you will likely still need some help navigating the process of making a bid, negotiating with the seller, preparing your contract, and closing on the property. A real estate lawyer can manage this entire process for you while advocating for your best interests. In addition, they can help ensure you make a sound investment while crossing every T and dot every I under the Florida's real estate laws.
What Is the Property Worth?
One of buyers’ biggest issues includes wondering if the property is worth the price. Having an attorney on your side can mean having someone enlist an appraiser’s help to determine the house’s or plot’s value on the current market. They can also help you understand the current state of the home, and how much you should pay for the property “as is.”
This often includes calling in a certified home inspector, as well. You need to know about any issues with the property, inside or out.
A home inspector looks at:
- The foundation
- The roof
- The structure
- The attic
- HVAC units
- Pools and pool pumps
- Outbuildings and sheds
- Driveways and sidewalks
The outcome of an appraisal or inspection could void a tentative deal or require you to sign paperwork saying you accept the property as is. Alternatively, your attorney can help you draft a proposal to address critical issues before your purchase.
Ensuring You Understand the Sales Agreement
While many agents use a standard sales contract, having an attorney help you with your purchase may allow you to negotiate terms or alter some parts of your agreement to better meet your circumstances. This constitutes another way the attorney can help you protect your rights as a buyer.
Your lawyer can review the terms and conditions in the sales contract with you to ensure you understand them.
They can check to see if the contract requires the seller to:
- Notify you of any claims against the property
- Tell you about any known defects
- Allow you to go through the home with a certified home inspector
- Approve the termination of the agreement if there are significant undisclosed defects
- Refund the down payment and/or terminate the contract if the buyer cannot obtain a mortgage
- Repair or pay for any known defects, unless selling the home as is
They may also negotiate additional terms based on the unique circumstances of the purchase. If you have specific requests, your attorney can put them into the sales agreement.
Offering Support for Selling Your Current Home
Real estate attorneys do not just represent buyers. They also help sellers ensure they have everything in order and get the best price for their homes. Sometimes, a buyer may need to wait until their current home sells to close on their new one. When this occurs, a lawyer can help you coordinate this by submitting contingency offers or other means.
Working to Ensure They Have Adequate Title Insurance
Title insurance is not something many buyers or sellers give a lot of thought to, but you should. It can prove vital if there is a property title problem. Your attorney can explain the importance of these policies, how they protect you, and the necessary title insurance coverage.
They can also review contracts to ensure the seller provides enough coverage. This insurance should pay at least your purchase price if you stumble upon an undiscovered claim by a creditor or another claim to the home after the purchase. Of course, your attorney—and the title company—should also provide a thorough check for any liens or claims before the sale.
They Represent You During Your Mortgage Closing
Buying a home or another property requires a team of people working together. This includes the buyer and seller and the bank that holds the current mortgage, your mortgage company, and the title company. Your attorney can oversee this team, ensuring everyone has the necessary documents to make the process go smoothly.
They also sit down with their clients and explain each step to them. This includes reviewing mortgage documents and answering questions about the included obligations.
Explaining the Final Prices and Expenses
The settlement sheet you receive after a sale can prove far from straightforward to read and understand. While it outlines your agreement, including any adjustments, so many changes occur during these negotiations that it can prove difficult to remember them all. Your attorney can review the settlement sheet with you, explaining each item.
- What you must pay for
- What the seller must pay
- Information about property taxes
- Title insurance premiums
- The agent’s fees
- Other costs
You can get the answers to any questions you have, including those about taxes, title insurance, and more.
They Can Ensure Documentation Gets Recorded Correctly
The title company generally records the mortgage and deed following a real estate purchase in Florida. However, your attorney can ensure this occurs and all documents end up where they should. This marks the final step in the home-buying process and is essential for ensuring the county correctly records the purchase.
How Does a Real Estate Lawyer Help a Seller?
Real estate law firms represent both buyers and sellers. As a result, they can help sellers get fair prices for their homes. This can ensure the family's financial future, especially since many need the sales proceeds to invest in their new home.
A real estate attorney can protect a buyer or seller’s rights and help them secure a property fairly and for a fair price. They can also help sellers reduce the risk of legal claims after the sale. Finally, they can also represent them in purchasing their new property.
Offering Advice and Guidance on the Sales Process
Preparing your home and putting it on the market requires knowledge of how this process works, what buyers prefer, and the current market. When you work with a real estate agent, they advise and help prepare your home for prospective buyers. They also arrange showings and advertise the listing.
People increasingly opt to sell their homes without using an agent, however. Instead, they can advertise online through local listings in print media, online home buying/selling platforms like Opendoor, and more. In addition, they may independently handle many of the tasks left to an agent.
An attorney guides you differently. A real estate law firm can identify and help you address issues that could prevent the home from selling quickly or at all, such as problems with the title. They also review and properly record all necessary paperwork throughout the process.
Helping Price the Property Appropriately
Knowing your home’s worth can prove essential in getting a fair price when you sell it. Before you can put a property on the market, you need to establish the listing price. This refers to the amount you would like the buyer to pay you for the home. This price usually comes from recent comparable home sales nearby.
Many sellers do not have the home appraised before selling—although the buyer’s mortgage company may require it. The seller has little reason to pay the extra money when other similar homes can give you a good idea.
In the end, they can go over the amount due to you and the expenses taken out, including:
- Any remaining mortgage
- Any payments due for home equity lines or other creditors
- Your agent’s commission, if one exists
- Repair costs
- Title insurance
- Any closing costs
Reviewing and Explaining the Sales Contract
Many people expect a straightforward sales agreement. One party hands the other money, and they get the keys. However, real estate laws and the necessity of negotiating many changes through this process make them much more complex. The buyer and seller must take steps to protect their rights, which occurs in the sales agreement.
Working with a real estate attorney ensures you have someone who can go over this contract with you line by line. They can explain the price and terms of the sale. They can also review it and ensure it protects you.
For example, the buyer may want to negotiate a change that allows them to walk through the house with a certified home inspector before finalizing the sale. This is common, but we may request that our client (the seller) receive additional options or rights in return.
Clearing the Title
Before issuing a title, the title company clears any claims against the property. This means they search for anyone else who may have a financial or legal claim to the home. This could occur if the owner owed back taxes, unpaid utilities, or never paid for work done on the home.
Before a sale can occur, the current owner must resolve any such claims. If there are claims against your home, we can help you understand where they came from, how much you owe, and how to clear the claim. Then, we can provide documentation to issue the title.
Assisting With Closing
Your real estate attorney can stand beside you during closing. They can handle any last-minute concerns and ensure it all goes smoothly. They can manage any necessary updates to paperwork and complete closing on time as planned.
Your lawyer can also review the settlement sheet with you. This ensures you understand the money you will receive and what final bills the lawyer or title company will manage.
A Real Estate Lawyer Provides Added Protection During These Transactions
Working with an attorney who handles real estate transactions regularly can prove beneficial, whether you are a buyer or a seller. It ensures you have a knowledgeable advocate on your side to help you protect your rights and get the best deal possible.
When you hire a real estate lawyer, you can help ensure you have the best financial outcome possible. You can also gain peace of mind knowing that a lawyer will manage the many moving parts in the sale or purchase. Contact us today at Lulich & Attorneys to receive your consultation.