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What role does a lawyer play in your real estate transaction?

Buying or selling a home is a significant ordeal that neither homeowner nor prospective buyer should take lightly. Real estate transactions involve the law of real property, which is complex and often poses a number of legal issues not present in other, less substantial transactions. Whether you plan to buy or sell a home in or around Roseland, New Jersey, it is important that you work with a real estate attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of real estate law and who can help you anticipate, prepare for and navigate problems that do arise. 

Many people forego legal representation during the real estate transaction process, but FindLaw details reasons you should do the opposite. For one, an attorney is familiar with real estate contracts and their vague terminology. For example, most standard real estate forms place the financial liability of the brokerage commission on the seller. In the absence of an addendum to such a form, you may have to pay the commission even if the sale falls through. At attorney can help you review the brokerage agreement and negotiate for revisions that work in your favor. 

Despite the fact that the purchase agreement is the single most important document in any real estate transaction, realtors commonly use standard forms. Standard forms fail to address some of the most common issues that arise during the transaction process, such as additions to the property (Are they lawful?), issues that crop up during the home inspection (What happens if the inspector finds termites, lead-based paint or asbestos?), lack of closing (What becomes of the deposit?) and contingencies (Is the purchase contingent on the buyer’s ability to sell his or her current home or the seller performing certain repairs?). A lawyer can explain your rights and responsibilities as outlined by the form and, if necessary, negotiate revisions that reflect yours and the other party’s desires. 

An attorney can also review the title to make sure the legal description is accurate and that problems do not exist with prior or adjoining owners. Problems a lawyer may look for include property use restrictions, prior agreements pertaining to the property and easements. 

Finally, an attorney can assist with the closing. During this final process, the buyer must pay the balance of the purchase price before the seller transfers the deed. The closing statement should detail any remaining debits, credits and closing costs, which a lawyer can explain in depth.