Before You Sign, Call an Attorney

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime.  It makes sense to have someone on your side looking after your interests.  The real estate agent works for the seller.  They get paid based upon the sale price of the home.  They want the deal to be done quickly.  The bank wants to loan you money.  They don’t get paid unless the sale closes.  Their interests are not necessarily aligned with you.  The real estate firms and the banks and their in-house attorneys, will be looking out for their client’s interests, not yours. 

Shouldn’t you have someone with you who knows the law? That's looking out for your interest alone?"

Some Thoughts on the Contract

Buying a home involves signing at least one contract and often a lot of paperwork written in a language only a lawyer can decipher. The contract may be several hundred pages or even a handwritten document. It can be called a "Letter of Agreement" or a "Letter of Understanding". Whatever form or name it will be legally binding.

Having an attorney review the contract can help prevent you from making a big mistake. You don't want to discover that you have signed away important rights, failed to include important protections, or failed to get what you agreed to accept.

Most people negotiate better for others than they do for themselves.  An attorney will let you know when you are making a bad deal. 
When it comes to legal advice, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. An attorney's perspective is much more helpful and very likely much less expensive before all of the papers are signed than after.

When Should You Hire an Attorney? 

It doesn't usually cost more to consult with a lawyer at the beginning of your home-buying process than later, engage an attorney once you have begun your real estate search.  This gives you time to develop a relationship with the person who will be “watching your back”.
At the latest, bring your attorney into the process when you are ready to make an offer and certainly before you sign an offer to purchase.

How Do You Choose an Attorney?

Hiring an attorney is an important decision and it should not be taken lightly.  You should ask for information on the attorney’s background, qualifications and education before making a final decision.

The process of selecting an attorney is similar to that of choosing a doctor. Talk with your friends, family, and coworkers. Get their experience and advice, and find out who they like to work with.

Here are some things to look for when choosing an attorney:

After you have a few names, check the Florida Bar’s website to make certain the attorney has no history of improper activity.

Look for an attorney who has represented SELLERS in real estate transactions in the past.  It is very important they have that perspective.

Choose to work with someone who is involved in real estate law on a full time basis.  It is extremely difficult for an attorney to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of real estate law.  An attorney who handles cases outside of real estate will limits his/her opportunity to keep up with this fast paced world.
Ask for references.  The attorney should be able to have some of his/her past clients call you and tell you about their experience working with him/her.  This is the most important part of the attorney selection process.  If the attorney refuses, you know that they have some kind of client relationship issue.

For more information on selecting an attorney when buying a home, call Mery Lopez for a free consultation."

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