Attorneys can help both parties in sale of housing

by Patricia S. Carrera JD Director d Pinnacle Legal Training for Lawyers

The process of buying and selling a home consists of multiple steps that can take weeks, even months, to complete.

In times of chaotic real estate markets, or if you’re dealing with a complex transaction, an attorney’s assistance can be especially helpful.

Buying a foreclosed property, selling when the purchase price does not cover the mortgage amount, and seller financing are examples of situations in which the parties need sound legal advice.

If you decide to work with a real estate agent, it’s a good idea to have your attorney review the agency agreement before you sign it; to be sure the arrangement is exactly what you believe it to be.

If you decide to sell your home without the assistance of a real estate agent, it’s even more critical to seek an attorney’s assistance in the buying and selling process.

Those who decided to buy a home directly from the owner should consider having a lawyer prepare the Offer to Purchase. The lawyer can suggest appropriate contingencies, and can guide buyers through the rest of the transaction.

An attorney can also help a buyer:

* review and advise the buyer about a buyer agency agreement and dealing with real estate brokers

* negotiate Counteroffers and amendments to the Offer to Purchase

* evaluate financing options and resolve problems

* review the commitment for title insurance

* help you decide how to hold title to the property

* answer questions and resolve problems during the course of the transaction

A seller’s attorney can:

* write or review the listing agreement with the seller’s real estate agent

* review the buyer’s Offer to Purchase, or draft or review the seller’s Counteroffer and amendments

* help satisfy contingencies to the Offer

* advise the seller if you decide to sell on a land contract

At the closing, the buyer and seller must sign numerous, complex legal documents. It’s wise to have your attorney there to explain the documents and to answer your questions.

Attorneys often spot potential problems that can be cleared before the closing and assist with unanticipated problems that can arise at the closing.

Buying or selling certain types of properties – such as a farm, lake property, condominium, cooperative, investment property, time-shares and so on – also may involve special legal considerations. Make sure to see an experienced real estate attorney for advice.

For more information, please visit WisBar.org. You can also learn answers to other commonly asked questions at WisBar.org/ forPublic/INeedInformation.

This information does not constitute legal advice and is only intended to provide general information about the law. Before making any important legal decisions, you should seek the advice of a lawyer who can provide guidance about your particular circumstances.

Patricia S. Carrera, J.D., is the director of PINNACLE®, the leading provider of continuing legal education (CLE) in Wisconsin. All Wisconsin attorneys are required to earn CLE credits to maintain their licenses and better serve you. With more than 25,000 members, the State Bar also aids the courts in improving the administration of justice, and educates the public about the legal system.


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