Real Estate Curve

Everything To Know About Real Estate

Jan-20-2008

Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent or Lawyer to Buy a House?

It’s no secret that real estate agents earn high commissions. Although the commission is usually paid by the seller, the cost may be indirectly passed on to you. And real estate lawyers charge exorbitant hourly rates. This raises the question — do you need a real estate agent or attorney to help you buy a home?

What the Law Says

Every state has its own set of real estate laws. For the most part, a real estate agent’s help is not legally required, though agents can help you with tasks that border on legal ones, such as preparing a home purchase contract. In some states, however, only a lawyer is allowed to prepare the home purchase documents, perform a title search, and close the deal.

Reasons to Hire an Agent

The process of buying a house is complex, and most people find it’s easiest to get through with an agent by their side. Paperwork will be flying around like a small tornado, and it can be helpful to have someone familiar with the process to deal with it. Other parts of the transaction will be happening quickly too — hiring inspectors, negotiating over who pays for needed repairs, and more — all of which is second nature to an experienced agent. What’s more, experienced real estate agents usually have contacts with good inspectors, mortgage loan brokers, and others who can make your buying process easier.

Don’t Use the Seller’s Agent

One of the best reasons to hire a real estate agent is that the sellers are likely to use their own agent — and you want to keep that agent from taking over the process. In fact, the seller’s agent may pressure you to let him or her represent both of you, in a “dual agency” relationship that primarily benefits the seller. (The less scrupulous sellers’ agents don’t make it clear that they’re working for both people, but if only one agent is involved in your transaction, it’s fair to assume that the agent’s loyalties are with the seller.) It’s better to have your own agent than settle for dual agency.

How Attorneys Are Paid

Attorneys normally charge by the hour, at rates ranging from $150 to $350. You may also find attorneys who charge flat fees for specific services, such as preparing real estate closing documents. Although attorneys prefer to handle your entire case with a “blank check” from you regarding hours to be spent and tasks to be accomplished, you’re hiring the attorney, and you can call the shots. If you prefer to hire an attorney for only a limited number of hours, or for specific tasks, such as answering a legal question or reviewing a document, you can negotiate this (and you should record your agreement in writing).

Posted under Legal Discussion

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