One of the most common questions I am asked with regard to real estate transactions, “Do I need an attorney at closing?” Given the size of the transaction, most likely the single largest financial transaction of your lifetime, the answer seems relatively simple, "yes".
Many individuals going through this transaction assume that the property will be properly transferred, free of liens and claims, and sign dozens of documents guaranteeing that they will be personally liable for the amount of funds that they are borrowing to complete the purchase. To guide them through this process, they use a title company that can't give legal advice to the individual parties and don't have the same form of fiduciary relationship that an attorney has when retained to represent a party to the transaction.
Having a lawyer attend your closing alleviates many potential concerns and problems people face at closing. The attorney can explain the meaning behing the most common documents you sign at closing, including documents such as the Note, the Deed, the Deed of Trust, The Truth in Lending Statement, and many more of the dozens of documents you will be required to sign. These documents have legal meaning and having a lawyer explain them helps give you a more complete understanding of these documents.
It is also important to have an attorney assist you throughout the most important aspect of the transaction, the negotiation of the purchase agreement. Often the parties that help you through the negotiation of the contract have a vested interest in the outcome of that very transaction, earning a large commission only on the successful completion of the sale. Not only are attorneys ethically required to represent your interests, we don't charge any form of commission based on the completion of the contract.
There are many provisions in the "standard" real estate contract that obligate individuals far beyond their expectations. Escape routes that many believe exist often have to be exercised in a limited time, and in a certain way. Having an attorney that understands the nuances of the contract can help you through the negotiation process to avoid very common pitfalls. We can also help navigate through the "short sale" process.
Prior to signing the contract, it makes great sense to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Please call (703) 359-8020 before you sign the contract.