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Residential Real Estate

An attorney specializing in residential real estate transactions can assist individual homeowners with the process of buying and selling homes, as well as with ownership issues that can arise after the sale. For most people, their home is the biggest single purchase they will ever make, and often their most valuable asset. Buying and selling real estate is complicated; a real estate attorney can explain the process and the options that may be available, as well as protect their client’s interests, ensure title to the property is clear, and take care of issues that may arise after the sale.

The real estate attorney's work frequently starts with the purchase agreement for the property. The attorney will either draft an appropriate document (for the buyer) or review one prepared by a prospective seller, and ensure that appropriate clauses are included and contingencies covered. Many residential purchase agreements will be contingent on such events as the buyer's ability to obtain a mortgage at or below a certain interest rate, the buyer's ability to sell their existing home, an inspection of the property, or an appraisal of the property that supports a value equal to or exceeding the proposed sale price.

Once the purchase agreement is signed, the real estate attorney will take the steps necessary to proceed with a closing, such as:

  • Obtain a title search or title insurance binder, review the status of the title, and require the seller to correct any defects in the title
  • Prepare or review the deed, any mortgage, other closing documents and any necessary bill of sale to cover personal property included in the sale
  • Advise buyers regarding the proper form in which to take title (joint tenancy, tenancy in common, etc.) and how this decision will affect the buyers in the future
  • Address issues that are not covered by title insurance or a title examination, such as zoning ordinances; other land-use restrictions; and liens, including water, sewer and special assessment liens

At the closing, the real estate attorney will review and explain the various documents involved and make sure that all steps are taken to fulfill the intent of the parties as expressed in the purchase agreement. Most importantly, the attorney will make sure that all of the steps necessary for the buyer to obtain clear, marketable title are taken, including the recording of the deed and other necessary documents.

Your First Appointment With a Real Estate Attorney

To read and print out a copy of the checklist, please follow the link below.

Your First Appointment With a Real Estate Attorney

You can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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