The role of a lawyer in a California residential real estate transaction

Buying or selling a home is a complicated undertaking. Real estate transactions are multilayered, and rife with potential pitfalls for the uninitiated.

Fortunately, there are experts who can help you handle the nuances of a residential real estate transaction. For some buyers or sellers of residential real estate, a real estate attorney can be a huge asset. But what exactly is the role of a lawyer in a residential real estate transaction? By gaining a clearer understanding of what a lawyer may do in a residential real estate transaction in California, you can be better prepared to select the right legal representation for your unique needs.

Attorney's duties can be comprehensive or narrowly focused based on client needs

When a house is changing hands, the buyer, the seller or both may retain an attorney to represent their interests. There is no "one size fits all" recipe for legal representation in a residential real estate transaction in California; the scope of a real estate lawyer's role can be as broad or as limited as the client wishes. That being said, there are a number of issues that are often handled by a lawyer.

One of the chief duties of a lawyer in a residential real estate transaction is to review, and if necessary, prepare, a number of relevant documents. For example, any agreement the client makes with a real estate agent, the purchase agreement and all closing documents may be examined by an attorney.

Title documents are also an extremely important item that may fall within the purview of a real estate attorney. Your attorney will be able to review evidence of title to ensure that the title to the home is "clean," in other words, free from easements, leans and similar encumbrances. A real estate attorney can also make arrangements as to how title will be transferred, and, if representing the buyer, can acquire title insurance to guard against title defects.

Finally, a real estate attorney can set up payment, facilitating the transfer of funds from a bank or some other source.

Remember, the general duties above are only some of the most common tasks handled by attorneys in residential real estate deals; you may ask your attorney to do more as required.

Considering buying or selling a home? Learn more from a real estate attorney

For most people, the sale or purchase of residential real estate is one of the largest transactions they will ever be involved with. Considering the high stakes, it is very important to get the right help, particularly for those buyers or sellers who are new to real estate transactions or are entering a new geographic region.

For some buyers and sellers of homes, it is not always necessary to retain a real estate attorney. However, it is still important to remember that a broker or real estate agent does not have the same ethical obligations as a licensed attorney, and non-lawyer players in a real estate action may not always be looking out for the individual interests of a buyer or seller.

If you are considering buying or selling residential property, you may want to protect yourself and ensure that the process goes smoothly by retaining a real estate attorney. You can learn more about the benefits of legal representation and find out if a lawyer is necessary for the type of transaction you are pursuing by speaking with a real estate lawyer.