Real Estate Attorney Responsibilities

A real estate attorney's job can be as broad as you want. I also recommend that you ask that your lawyer describe her processes and fees in writing before you proceed.

If you're the home buyer, you attorney should:

Explain the purchase contract and most importantly explain how you will take title on the property.

Your attorney can verify that there are no covenants, easements, or liens registered against the property. Any of these will impede the purchase and should be planned for in advance.

Prepare and register all the legal documents.

Clarify the terms of the mortgage and work with your lender if any of the terms are to be negotiated.

Study the adjustments, including taxes owing and utilities costs paid.

Your attorney should attend the closing and review all the paper work before you sign.

A good lawyer will arrange title insurance protection to protect you from losses due to title defects.

If you're the home seller, your attorney should:

Prepare the purchase and sale agreement, including negotiating the terms of the sale.

Prepare the deed and power of attorney.

Resolve title issues if they come up.

Attend the closing and review all the papers before you sign.

Arrange for transfer of security deposits.

Put together insurance certificates if needed.

Attorney fees range from five hundred to fifteen hundred for an average home whether you're the buyer or the seller. However, be aware that legal fees are higher when you are the buyer because the role of the buyer's lawyer is more extensive.

Some attorneys charge a flat fee for home buying/selling services and others bill by the hour. If paying by the hour, get a quote for the final cost in advance and insist on a regular accounting for charges. A lawyer with any experience can easily estimate his or her fees, however fees can spike if something goes wrong with the purchase. Most important, attorney fees do not work like EBay, if your deal does not close, you'll still owe your lawyer for his or her time.