Real estate services include:
- Earnest Money Agreements
- Land Sale Contracts
- Trust Deeds
- Easement Issues
- General Information
- Rights of First Refusal
When, in the course of a residential real estate transaction, will you need a real estate attorney?
If you are confused about any aspect of a transaction, do not let an agent talk you out of seeking legal advice when you think you need an interpretation of any provision. Unless a real estate agent or broker is also an attorney, he may not, by law give you legal advice. The unauthorized practice of law may be as seemingly innocent as advising you how to take title to the property or interpreting the details of a loan document.
If you want to avoid some of the nasty surprises that have left people facing foreclosure, an attorney should review any loan documents BEFORE you sign them. A real estate attorney is crucial when you do not understand every single document that is being put in front of you. If you don’t understand a word or phrase in a contract, trust deed, mortgage or earnest money agreement, an attorney can tell you what it means. The few hundred dollars you spend on attorney fees can save you a lifetime of aggravation and possibly thousands of dollars.
There is no such thing as a “standard” contract. Even with pre-printed “fill in the blank” forms, there are many blanks that when filled in customize each contract.
In Oregon, an attorney is not essential every time you close a real estate deal. You can close a sale or loan at a title company. But remember: these institutions have staff attorneys making decisions affecting them, not necessarily you. Take the time to read documents BEFORE you sign them and feel free to tell the escrow or title officer that you want to seek legal advice.
The law, as we have been made painfully aware of late, is becoming more complicated and subject to more than one interpretation. By being aware of the legal aspects of the deal, you may avoid legal difficulties after the purchase or sale of a home.
Finally, try to enlist the services of an experienced attorney if you decide you need one. An attorney filled with self-importance, like a broker or agent in the same frame of mind, can be a detriment. You should look for thorough, helpful advice and criticism.
Some Real Estate Don’ts
- Don’t put a parent’s name on your house without talking to an attorney – have you considered what might happen if your parent has to go on Madicare? Do you know how long the Medicare “look-back period” is?
- Don’t put a child’s name on your house without talking to an attorney – what if your child is at fault in an accident and under-insured? What if your child files for bankruptcy protection? Do you know how far back a bankruptcy trustee can avoid transfers?