Profile picture for sriramonly

Buying my first home: Do I need to hire a lawyer to be present at the time of closing?

http://www.firsttechcu.com/mortgage_home_finance/purchasing_a_home/buyers_guides/mortgage_guides.html

this site suggests that i should get a lawyer to represent me at the time of closing. Is there any advantage in doing this? If so how do i find a lawyer and how much do i need to pay & is this considered as part of closing cost .
  • November 26 2009 - Bellevue
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (22)

Well, you get a funny mix here on Zillow. to cover bases, every agent and the paperwork says you should consult an attorney if you are concerned about your rights or the impact that contracts can have on you.

That being said, If it is a straight up deal and there is nothing out of the ordinary, I would say you should be fine. Your Realtor and the closer can answer questions if you have them and if you aren't sure after that or if you want a separate opinion then that is where you could consult an attorney.

Just to close though I rarely see an attorney at the closing table. Most forms in WA are standard and are designed in a balanced way so that you get the same rights as everyone else using these forms. But again if you have a concern go ahead and call an attorney, I don't think you need them at closing as a standard practice.
  • December 31 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

I have to concur with fly...in my opinion, the forms are designed to limit professional liability. It is almost always worth the money to hire an attorney. Back before I was an agent, I was told I was nuts for reading all of my mortgage docs and taking my purchase agreement to an attorney - but ultimately, I was the one who faced the consequences. I still read every page (even if it's only to scan the doc for non-standard clauses).

When I go to a close, I don't force the buyers I represent to read every page, but I certainly will point to areas they need to read more than others if it looks like they are going too quickly (like say, the percent on the mortgage, monthly payment, penalites for default, etc, etc).
  • December 07 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for flyhi152

you should be  aware that the whole system is  set up to  protect  the realtors  and  sellers  from being sued.

For  example:   the  real estate  purchase contract  forms  in  Arizona  provide  mandatory  arbitration.  That  means:  if  your  realtor,  the seller and the title  company  cheat  you,   and  even  if  you can  prove  it,  you can't  go  to  court !!!

The  whole  system is  corrupt  like  the mafia.  Buying a  house  is  a  transaction  about  several  hundred  of  dollars  and  the  standard  form  that  every  realtor  in Arizona  uses  excludes  your  right  to  go  to  court.  You  can't  even  appeal  the  decision  of  the arbitrator  and  what  I  was  told  about  AAA  arbitration is  that  the  process  is  even  a  lot more  expensive  than  a  court  of  law.   I  believe  that  these  forms  should  not  be  allowed  for  real  estate  transactions  in  a  country  that  has  a  justice  system.   If   someone  gets  cheated  he  should  have  teh  right  to  file  a  complaint  in  a  court  of  justice  instead  of  depending on  arbitrary  decisions  of  a  person  who is not  a  judge.  This  puts  any  real  estate  transaction  onto the  level  of  small claims court  where  the judge  can  decide  whatever he wants  without the  possibility  of  taking it  to  the next  level. 

I  don't know  what it is like  in other states  but  the  Arizona Association of  Realtors  did  not  have  the homebuyer in mind when  designing their  froms.

  • December 07 2009
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

You are not required to have an attorney to close in Washington state. NW gave a fairly decent overview. However, you may want to have an attorney review your contract and your mortgage docs. It will cost you extra (although you probably could negotiate it into your contract if you haven't picked out the property yet). If you haven't signed these sorts of documents before it may well be worth a few hundred dollars to have them go over the contracts, particularly your mortgage, so you know what you are in for.

Let me know if you need a real estate attorney in Bellevue.

  • December 07 2009
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for klarek the realist
"If you have a Realtor, they can should be there for you during the closing process to help you navigate through the paperwork, etc."

Pay $10,000 for a realtor to "navigate paperwork" or pay $400 for an educated and certified lawyer to cover your rear.  Hmmmm.....

"a licensed real estate agent can help you with the entire buying process including closing"

I sense a recurring theme here from the agents...

"Klarek: If the property is listed the buyer is not paying to have an agent. All buyers should have an agent working on their behalf. The buyers agent is paid by the seller whom already has a contract with the listing agent."

If they aren't paying for the agent, then there is an inherent conflict of interest.  This could be even more dangerous than not having legal representation. 

"There are many reasons a buyer would be better off if they did not have their own agent."

jkonstant wins for an honest and selfless answer.  Thank you.
  • December 07 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for nwhome.us
In Washington State there is no requirement that an attorney participate in the closing process.  Washington is an escrow state which means that the closing process is managed by an escrow agent (a third and independent party to the transaction).  Most escrow companies have an LPO in the company (Limited Practice Officer) that is as close as they get.
The Washington Department of Licensing licenses real estate agents to manage agreements that are generated by the local multiple listing service (NWMLS) and their attorneys, but agents are not allowed to practice law.  So the agreements are used, unaltered, in thousands of transactions a year.  Agents are not allowed to alter the "boiler plate" and it voids their liability coverage if they do.  The attorneys that build these forms have far more experience in their use than any independent attorney and therefore most participants tend to rely on their content. (that's not to say most of us would love to have less paperwork to deal with)
Having said that, it is to your advantage to hire an attorney to review any of the agreements that you are asked to sign.  Your agent is not an attorney and will not be able to support you legally if you find yourself in litigation.  I think this question is more correctly answered by:  "An attorney should help you in the offering process, rather than the closing process."  Your link describes anticipating problems, not reacting to problems.
Does that help?
  • December 07 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for Mr Caveat
you aren't required to use an attorney in New Jersey

are you sure about that?  i know they dont need to be present at closing, but i thought you still needed to have them review everything... i know at the very least there is a period after closing where the attorneys can still undo the deal, or at least so i was told
  • December 02 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for Hogger2003
Hello' if you don't know what you doing thin I say yes.
There will be closing lawyer present and there also be good amount of fees involve in the process and it could be very costly.
good luck.
Best regards.
 
  • December 01 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for frisky1
"There are several states...the thirteen colonies...that require an attorney to transact the closing.  In Nevada, an assigned escrow agent transacts the closing.  "

Linda: Virginia is one of the "original colonies" and attorneys are not required to transact a closing/settlement.


you aren't required to use an attorney in New Jersey or Pennsylvania for a RE transaction either. And I'm pretty sure both were around in 1776.
  • November 29 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for flyhi152
just  type  "real estate lawyer"  into Google  and you will get plenty of  results.  Probably  the lawyer will try  to rip you off as all the lawyers do. Thats  why  they are there...   But  a  realtor will do nothing else for you after he gets his  commission.  My  realtor would not even return phone calls after I  told him that  I  got  cheated when buying  the property.

According to the seller's  realtor he was the one who filled out the HOA  addendum  with wrong information,  so  theoretically  I  could  also  go  after him if  I  was  a  lawyer.   Unfortunately  in  this country  it  is  "at  the discretion"   of  a  judge to award  attorneys  fees  and I  might end up paying more $$$  to a  lawyer than the actual award by a  court of law.  I  had this before:  Winning the lawsuit and  losing money after all.  This is America,   only  the lawyers win.
  • November 29 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

There are many reasons a buyer would be better off if they did not have their own agent. I won't go into them all since the question is whether to have an attorney. While article 13 of the Code of Ethics is a little abiguous in it's wording, realtors should never be the one's deciding whether seeking legal advice is in the clients best interest or required.

Linda: Virginia is one of the "original colonies" and attorneys are not required to transact a closing/settlement.

  • November 29 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

There are several states...the thirteen colonies...that require an attorney to transact the closing.  In Nevada, an assigned escrow agent transacts the closing. 
  • November 28 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Klarek: If the property is listed the buyer is not paying to have an agent. All buyers should have an agent working on their behalf. The buyers agent is paid by the seller whom already has a contract with the listing agent.
  • November 28 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Hi Sriarmonly,

Hiring a lawyer is never a bad idea.  Generally speaking if you have an agent they should be representing your best interest, material defect, contract timelines etc. Their broker should be reviewing your file as well.  I usually recommend my investors involve their real estate contract lawyers to review their contracts.

Lawyers are not typically part of the closing costs.  That is an expense designated to the party hiring the lawyer, and is most likely an outside party reviewing the contract, not so much involved in the trasaction itself. 

If a person was to consider using a lawyer for a real estate transaction you would be looking for a real estate contract lawyer.

Good luck
  • November 28 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for flyhi152
In AZ  you definitely need one:  I  was cheated by the seller who stated that the HOA  fees were $ 120 quarterly.  After closing I found out that there was a  second HOA with additional HOA  fees of  $ 1,000  per year.  I  have talked to several attorneys  and asked them what I can do. The answer was "You have a good case but the legal expenses are too high to pursue it"  now I  am stuck with a property that nobody would  buy if  I  disclose the truth.  The  Title Company  "disclosed"  the second HOA  by  listing  the recorders numbers  for this HOA  under  Schedule B  (Exclusions).   At  the time of  signing I  did not  have any idea what  these  numbers meant but this covered the  Title Company.  This is just an example how  the system allows  the buyer to get cheated.   Even without having seen any  document that would  name the second HOA,  I  entered  into  a legal  agreement with them.  Lawyers find a  way how to cheat you and the only way how to protect yourself is hiring a  lawyer yourself.
  • November 28 2009
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Hi.  I don't let my buyers or sellers close without an attorney representing them.  Realtors are not attorneys.  Today, the prices are so low and competitive to find a great lawyer to make sure all papers are in order.  It would literally be crazy not to use one.

Scott Miller, Realty Associates, Boca Raton, FL
  • November 27 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for klarek the realist
"However, it shouldn't be necessary to pay the extra cost of hiring a lawyer if you have a great Realtor and escrow company working with you throughout the process."

Rebecca, a RE attorney would cost just a few hundred dollars.  Are you really trying to suggest that this should be avoided in lieu of a realtor that costs several thousand dollars?
  • November 27 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

No, you do not need an attorney when buying a residential property here in Arizona. Arizona Department of Real Estate (ADRE) has developed canned purchasing documents and a licensed real estate agent can help you with the entire buying process including closing. It's very similar in most states though i heard you will need to hire an attorney to buy a co-op property in NY. My recommendation is to check with your local Realtor, after all, real estate practise is somewhat different state by state and is very local. 
  • November 27 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Yes you are better off having an attorney represent you throughout the entire process. This mean before you sign anything including the contract to purchase. Yes title/escrow companies that act as independent third parties can do a nice job handling the closing, but they cannot give you legal advice should things go bad. Things generally go bad long before you get to the closing table. An attorney is going to better protect your good faith/earnest money deposit too.
  • November 27 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

You do not need to hire an attorney to assist you with closing - but if you are not represented by a realtor, you may wish to hire an attorney to review the purchase and sale agreement before you submit your offer - and to then review any counter offer that you receive. Making sure that your earnest money is properly protected and that you maintain your rights to inspection, etc  are important steps. The listing agent will be representing the seller - so make sure that you have someone on your side too!
  • November 26 2009
  • 2Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Congratuations, sriramonly!  Buying your first home is a huge step!!

If you have a Realtor, they can should be there for you during the closing process to help you navigate through the paperwork, etc.  Generally, escrow handles the paperwork and acts as a third party to the transaction.  As a first time homebuyer, it's important to have experienced people partnering with you.  However, it shouldn't be necessary to pay the extra cost of hiring a lawyer if you have a great Realtor and escrow company working with you throughout the process.

Feel free to email me if you have any other questions!

--Rebecca Carlson
  • November 26 2009
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Hello,

You need a "closing agent" that can be an escrow company or lawyer that practices these services for real estate transfers.

You will be fine with an escrow company. You can also attend a class or have a one on one with a homeownership counselor.

You're welcome to contact me for more information. It's best to be as educated on the process to make the best decision on your first purchase. 

Good luck,

  • November 26 2009
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.