When Do I need a Real Estate Attorney?

A real estate attorney is not often needed in residential transactions. However, there are instances when you will need a real estate lawyer. The majority of sales are handled by buyers’ agents, who provides advice throughout the process. But, since there’s a substantial sum of money involved, it sometimes becomes necessary to consult or hire a legal professional. Most ordinary circumstances are negotiated with real estate agent. For instance, extending a contract to reschedule the closing for a later date. Other times, it’s best to have an attorney involved.

When Do I need a Real Estate Attorney?

Orlando is home to an active real estate market. In a balanced market, where there is near parity between buyers and sellers and six months of inventory (the amount of time it would take to sell all active listings in half a year), only about 10 percent of all pending transactions fall through. In a seller’s market or a buyer’s market, that number rises significantly. Unbalanced markets cause approximately 50 percent of all pending transactions to be delayed or cancelled.

Perhaps the most important reason to be represented by an attorney is conflicting interests of the parties. Throughout the process, the buyer’s and seller’s interests can be at odds with each other, and even with those of professionals involved in the sale. —Find Law.com

The reasons vary greatly, such as a big life change like a job loss or sudden need for relocation. It could be due to an appraisal that does not match the agreed purchase price or an estate sale where one heir objects to finalizing the contract. In these examples, legal action is not likely warranted. However, there are situations where legal help is necessary. Here are some of the reasons you need to hire a real estate attorney:

  • Lack of disclosure. In state of Florida, sellers have a legal duty to disclose certain information about a home. For instance, home improvement work done without a permit. If the home inspection doesn’t catch the unpermitted work but it is discovered later, the seller failed to make a proper disclosure. Florida law states any issues which are known to the seller must be disclosed. (There isn’t, however, an obligation to disclose what should have been known.)
  • Failure to make repairs. It’s common for sellers to agree to make repairs before the sale finalizes. For instance, a home inspection reveals a leak in the roof and the seller agrees to fix it. But after moving in, the buyer learns the problem was not addressed. In this type of instance, the buyer can seek legal recourse, since this a breach of contract.
  • Misrepresentation. Some sellers attempt to represent their properties in a deceptive way. A good example is calling a room without a closet a bedroom. Another example is a seller who lists a home with a certain lot size. The buyer finds out later the lot size is smaller (maybe when erecting a fence). This too, is cause of legal action.
  • Housing discrimination. Chapter 760 of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Fair Housing Act prohibit housing discrimination. Additionally, the City of Orlando Human Relations is a proponent against housing discrimination. Same-sex couples who experience housing discrimination should hire a real estate attorney.
  • Removing items agreed to transfer with the sale. It’s quite common for sellers to agree to leave major appliances and other items in the home, transferring ownership to the buyer through closing. But, some sellers do “forget” and take said items with them. Depending on the amount and circumstances, it might be worthwhile to consult a real estate lawyer.

If you’d like to know more about the home buying process, and how to find the right property for you, please phone me at 407-616-7286, I’ll be happy to speak with you.