The old saying “the devil is in the detail” is never more prevalent than in a real estate contract. The fine print of a real estate contract outlines important deadlines, contingencies, expenses and closing costs that may change your mind about buying the house if you knew about them. Your real estate attorney is the only person you meet in the house buying process qualified to give you legal advice. You can rest assured your real estate attorney is looking out for your best interest as he or she is the only person not financially motivated by the sale of the home; the realtors, mortgage broker, loan advisors and title company do not get paid unless the sale occurs.
In most cases it takes an hour consultation for me to review your contract, explain the fine print in terms you understand, give you an accurate expectation of closing costs, highlight the contingencies and deadlines and prepare you for the upcoming process. This allows you to compare what you thought you were getting yourself into with what you are getting yourself into. Worst case scenario you spend a couple hundred dollars for the peace of mind knowing the deal is what you thought it was. Alternatively those same couple hundred dollars may allow you to shape the contract into the deal you want or it saves you from entering a bad deal.
The time to hire your real estate attorney is BEFORE signing the real estate contract.
If you are thinking about buying a “short sale”, “REO” property or foreclosure property now is the time to hire your attorney. You need to know what to expect if you are buying one of these properties. In most cases, by contract, you are buying “insurable” title not the traditional “marketable” title. If you do not know what the difference is you need to be educated about the difference by your attorney. If you are planning on selling these properties in the next seven years or have to put money into them after closing to fix them up it is vital to know the difference.
When you find the right property you will need an independent opinion of title from your lawyer to protect your interests because the banks will likely control the closing and the title insurance company and they are not inclined to make you aware of the information you need. At closing your lawyer will make sure your house is being closed based on your contract not one of the other hundred or so contracts closing that day by the banks title company.