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Financial Learning Center


The Buying Transaction

Hiring an Attorney

Many states require that an attorney handle the transfer and settlement of real estate. Others do not. If your state doesn't require it, should you hire a lawyer?

A lawyer you hire will represent your interests, explain the legal aspects of your real estate contract, explain technical language in the contract, suggest conditions and contingency clauses that protect you, and generally advocate on your behalf throughout the process.

Fees for such work are usually fairly reasonable and can be well worth it if it saves you from making a costly legal error along the way. Never save a little in order to risk a lot. If you decide to seek the help of an attorney, you should definitely have one involved by the time you begin to draw up the contract, but it is generally a good idea to have one involved sooner.

Your friends, relatives, co-workers, and bankers may refer you to quality lawyers specializing in real estate law. Decide on the extent of services you need so you can discuss a fee schedule before you begin. For example:

  • Do you want assistance during the negotiation process?
  • Will the lawyer's involvement begin only at the contract stage?
  • What will the lawyer do for his or her fee?
  • Will he or she just review the contract?
  • Will he or she get involved with financing, title searches and policies?
  • Will he or she be present at the closing?
  • Will you have any extra work you'd like him or her to handle?
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