5 reasons to have legal representation when buying a house

Purchasing a home is likely one of the most significant investments you will ever make. While most home sales are straightforward, some non-traditional sales can be more complicated. Problems can and do occur. Having legal representation in your corner can help ensure a smooth transaction and avoid problems that may arise in the future.

1. Addressing title problems

Title discrepancies are more common than you think in real estate transactions. An ex-spouse may still be listed on the title or a contractor may have a lien against the property.

An issue with the title may not be enough to derail a real estate transaction. However, you want to clear up and discrepancies. Making sure the owner has clear authority to finalize the sale can help you avoid future legal proceedings.

2. Resolving property defects

The seller may claim that the property is up to code and free of defects. However, a home inspection report may show otherwise. It is also possible that a home inspector misses an issue that you subsequently uncover.

Regardless of the situation, it is almost always easier to renegotiate the purchase price or to demand that the owner addresses defects before the sale goes through. Once you have closed on the home, your options for addressing these issues can become more limited and potentially expensive.

3. Holding parties accountable for breach of contract

If a seller breaches a contract it can leave you with a significant amount of money spent and nothing to show for it. In the worst-case scenario, you could find yourself effectively homeless if you have already sold or vacated your previous residence.

A lawyer can explain to the seller the potential consequences of breaching a real estate contract, even for a short period of time. If the seller still decides to breach, your attorney will be there to explain your options going forward.

4. Addressing potential fraud

Unfortunately, fraud is a common occurrence in real estate transactions. Fraud may involve con artists posing as property owners or real estate professionals. Fraud may also occur through material misrepresentations or omissions.

A legal professional can help serve as another set of eyes that can spot things you may have missed. Should fraud become an issue, you can also rely on your legal professional to discuss your options for recourse.

5. You will have someone exclusively representing your interests

Most real estate agents are consummate professionals who have a deep understanding of the financial issues and paperwork that go into a home sale. However, your real estate agent cannot in good conscience provide you with legal advice. Your agent is also not authorized to represent you in legal proceedings.

You can rest assured that your legal counsel is there to represent your interests exclusively. Remember, it is often easier to address problems when they arise, rather than seeking resolution after you have entered into a binding agreement.