WHEN DO YOU NEED A REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY?
If you are closing on a new home in Virginia, it’s best to hire a real estate attorney to help review the contract and assist in the closing process.
The short, honest answer to the question posed by the title of this article is, “always.” A more specific and conservative answer is, “the sooner the better, but definitely before you sign the real estate contract.” For most of us, our home likely will be the largest investment we make and depending upon who you ask, either our biggest asset or our biggest liability. Once the ink dries on the contract, there is little (with some exceptions) you can do to change the purchase price of the home you’re buying. As a result, our natural instinct is to cut out what we perceive to be worthless but expensive closing costs such as surveys, enhanced title insurance policies, various home and system inspections, and, — attorneys’ fees.
Although The Code of Virginia allows “non-lawyers,” such as title insurance companies, to close real estate transactions, there are many benefits to spending a little extra to have a licensed attorney on your side.
Here are five reasons to hire a real estate attorney:
1. An attorney represents you and your best interest.
Your attorney can serve as an advocate for you, with no vested interest in whether the transaction closes, and can provide you with an often-needed reality check about your home purchase or sale. Furthermore, the attorney can represent you if the need for legal action in the courts arises.
2. You’ll get your money’s worth.
Closing attorneys can review your contract, address issues that may arise prior to closing, explain title issues, assist with the resolution of title defects, and ultimately review, translate, and explain the pile of documents you’ll sign at closing.
3. An attorney can provide comfort and confidence during an inherently stressful event.
Issues can arise during the closing process, e.g., home inspection issues, interest rate locks, practical deadlines, and title defects. An experienced real estate attorney who handles these transactions on a daily basis, can navigate you through the complicated closing process, calm your worries, allay fears, answer your questions, and ensure that important details don’t slip through the cracks.
4. An attorney is a one-stop-shop for all your real estate needs.
Only a licensed attorney can draft deeds and other legal instruments, explain the rights and obligations of the buyer and/or seller pursuant to the purchase contract, the meaning of loan documents signed at closing, or the impact of title defects or title insurance policy “exceptions,” and offer answers to, or opinions, on certain legal questions that may arise.
5. Spending a few more dollars at closing can prevent you from spending much more after a closing or failed closing.
An attorney, unlike a non-lawyer settlement agent, can recognize, advise you of, and hopefully defuse or avoid the many potential legal landmines that lurk beneath the surface of any closing. There is no feeling worse than closing on a home only to discover that the garage violates a county setback requirement and must be moved or torn down and the basic title insurance policy you purchased doesn’t cover such a problem.
Contact an Experienced Real Estate Attorney in Richmond, VA
To speak with one of our real estate attorneys in Richmond, Virginia, who has successfully handled hundreds of residential and commercial closings, call 804-320-9100 today and ask to speak with Heath Gates, Michael Hall, Scott Stovall, or Brandon Cowan.