East Coast West Coast, Left Coast Right Coast
Not all real estate markets or the way we transact business the same.
Oftentimes we meet up with Buyers who have not transacted in California and have questions and concerns about the absence of a real estate attorney.
On the West Coast, Real Estate Attorneys bring value when something in the contract is vague and could be interpreted in different ways. While we don’t use attorneys to draft or negotiate our contracts (which East Coast agents do), from time to time we bring on an attorney if there is a dispute regarding interpretation of the clause.
1. When are attorneys hired?
In California we will use a real estate attorney when an agent or clients is being sued or want to sue for a real estate-related matter. Or when arbitration and mediation fails.
Buyers and Sellers absolutely should consult an attorney in a variety of circumstances. For example, in a landlord-tenant disupte, we advise calling a “Qualified California Real Estate Attorney.”
Depending on where you are transacting, attorneys are used more or less. For instance, on the East Coast, attorneys draft all real estate contracts, on the West Coast, agents draft their own real estate contracts.
Landlord-tenant disputes require an experienced real estate attorney; further, attorney’s have niches on each side. We will also consult a qualified California Real Estate attorney for non-disclosure disputes.
If you are on the West Coast (where I practice real estate), and have a client purchasing a new or used home, the agent will draft the contract. If there is a legal question, however, we will consult an attorney, otherwise there isn’t a need for a real estate attorney.
2. In the case of a lawsuit:
If you are suing or being sued, you absolutely should bring in a real estate attorney. I had a situation in which I did not want the client to close because the extensive remodel had not yet been completed. Our clients insisted we close and that they would handle the finish work with the sellers directly.
Our client ended up paying another contractor to finish the work, and then sued the seller to reimburse the cost of that work. The seller refused, and countersued and then brought us into the suit, the buyer’s agents. We all hired our own real estate attorney to maneuver us through the process.
In the same way, if you are being sued, use an attorney, if you are buying a home, use a Realtor. Each are experts in their fields.
3. What are the risks of participating in any of these scenarios without a real estate attorney?
The risks of not using an attorney–in the situations where you really ought to–could be very costly, financially and mentally, while extremely time consuming and exhausting! We definitely rely on the counsel of professionals – they advise you. Home purchases are emotional and the price is high, so you need the right attorney to guide you.
4. Who are good candidates for hiring a real estate attorney and why/when? We have trusted attorneys for specific areas; such as landlord-tenant disputes, real estate disputes, boundary disputes. and disclosure disputes.
5. What do real estate attorneys typically charge (either as a flat fee or by the hour)? Attorneys charge hourly but sometimes it can be a flat fee. A closing could be a flat fee, like in New York.
6. How can a reader best find and choose a real estate attorney? Use your agent as your guide! They love helping you!
We provide referrals all day long. Don’t go it alone.
It is imperative to hire an expert in the field you are seeking advice or counsel. The cost to not use an expert can be insurmountable not to mention draining. We are busy enough doing what we do as Realtors, parents, business people, and the like, we cannot be an expert in every field.