If you’re thinking of buying a home or investment property, you may find yourself wondering if you need a real estate lawyer in addition to your real estate agent. Wanting to keep costs down is understandable, but it’s important to keep in mind that these two professionals serve different purposes. In an ideal scenario, you want to have both an agent and a lawyer working on your team to ensure your transaction proceeds as smoothly as possible.
Different Professionals Have Different Areas of Competency
Real estate agents typically represent either the buyer or the seller. Generally, it’s best to avoid a “dual agency” relationship where the same individual is representing both parties. If the seller is the one hiring the agent, it’s safe to assume the agent’s loyalties don’t lie with you as the buyer.
Real estate agents perform a wide range of services through different stages of your purchase. They can discuss the neighborhoods, the condition of the property, recent improvements that have been made, what similar homes have sold for, and other related issues. However, a real estate agent can’t provide legal advice. Even if the agent knows the answer to your question, they risk losing their real estate license if they try to provide any form of legal assistance.
Some examples of the types of questions you would need to consult a real estate lawyer for include:
- How should I hold the title to the property?
- Why should I pay for a survey?
- Can I cancel the purchase and get my money back?
- Who bears the risk of loss if the property is damaged prior to closing?
- What is the difference between a General Warranty Deed, Special (Limited) Warranty Deed, and Quit Claim Deed?
- What does it mean to have funds or documents in escrow?
- How does the buyer know how the land surrounding the property will be used?
- If someone else has an easement over my property, what are my rights and obligations?
It’s also important to note that purchasing real estate involves a significant amount of financial risk. One of the benefits of using a real estate lawyer is that your lawyer can help you proactively address zoning, survey, easement, or escrow issues that you may encounter, so your investment is as protected as possible.
A Real Estate Lawyer Is Better Equipped to Help With Special Needs
The more complex your transaction is, the more need you’ll have for legal representation. Real estate lawyers are best equipped to handle situations such as:
- You are buying property far away from your current residence.
- You are interested in a home that is a short sale or bank owned.
- You are buying a property that is part of an estate sale.
- The property could potentially have structural issues.
- The property is located in a flood zone or areas with other types of adverse conditions.
- You are investing in commercial property.
A Real Estate Lawyer Offers More Comprehensive Services
In Virginia, you have the option of using a real estate lawyer or a title and escrow company to handle your real estate settlement. Choosing the title and escrow company provides you with limited assistance since the company’s only job is to ensure the title gives you a clear right to the property you’ve purchased. Title and escrow companies work on the assumption that a transaction can be completed with templates and boilerplate contracts. They’re not proactive enough to spot problems that could either kill the deal or create headaches down the road.
Do You Need Legal Help With A Virginia Real Estate Transaction?
If you need legal assistance with a Virginia or North Carlonia real estate transaction you need to speak with an experienced real estate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation.We serve all communities in Eastern Virginia, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Isle of Wight County, Hampton, the Eastern Shore, and Northeastern North Carolina, including Currituck, Elizabeth City, and the Outer Banks.
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