Real Estate Agent or Attorney?

We're currently renting a house and our landlord has offered to sell it to us at a very reasonable price and carry the loan payments.  He has a lot of real estate experience (owning 11-12 rental houses), but I want to be sure all the paperwork is correct.  Since we're getting a good price, I don't want to ask him to pay for a buyer's agent.  Could I get a real estate agent to help me for a flat fee or hourly rate, or would it be better for me to get a real estate attorney?  And where could I find a good one in the Denver, CO area?  Thank you!

  • April 29 2011 - Denver
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Answers (15)

Profile picture for Connie Klemme
you should be able to get an agent or an attorney  for a flat fee.  Either way. If you are using a title company for closing with complete title search etc, then it likely doesn't matter which you choose (expect much disagreement in next few posts-both directions).   There is always the issue of the owner financing documents, read carefully, get an attorney to review those if you don't have one for other stuff.

Either way you go, I reccommend completing title search and title insurance.  He may have had many transactions without it..but it's a small expense to mitigate great risk.

as for where to find one.   There's many threads on how to choose an agent.  the best way is to talk with them and size them up based on your own ideas.  Many will do a flat fee  FSBO transaction- start with that question, if they wont, move on to the next.
  • April 29 2011
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Realtors have a limited license to practice law, and can fill out standard forms for you. While either a lawyer or a realtor can do the job for you, since you are going to do an "owner carryback", I suggest you go with a lawyer, since that is not something realtors do regularly. One source for finding an attorney is the Metropolital Legal Referral Service. http://www.mlrsonline.org/
You might be able to minimize your cost by having a realtor prepare the contract itself and have a lawyer just do the loan portion. Realtors work with the standard forms all the time, and lawyers more often deal with unusual circumstances and conflicts.
Hope that helps.
Vicki
  • April 29 2011
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Profile picture for Connie Klemme
Vicki has a better answer of what I was trying to say!!!  I agree that's a good plan.
  • April 29 2011
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Profile picture for Reallyfedup
Seems like you have already worked out the details with the landlord.  It's now a matter of making sure you are protected and that everything is legal.  There's really not anything a Realtor can do for you at this point.  You are better off contacting an attorney.
  • April 29 2011
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So few agents (including myself) have experience in contract for deeds, that you would be better off consulting an attorney with experience in writing and reviewing contract for deed sales.

When I entered the business, contract for deed was rarely ever used and the agents that had experience with them did one every millennium. Now days they are becoming more common, but without the experience I wouldn't trust an agent to review the contract.
  • April 29 2011
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Profile picture for Connie Klemme
oh I hope you are doing a title transfer and a owner carry mortgage rather than a contract for deed.  definitely talk with an attorney.  I've done a few contract for deeds and more than a few owner finance transactions (several of them personal transactions).  I never feel comfortable about the contract for deed for either side-not because of the document but because of the nature of it.   title search and actual transfer where the seller just acts like a bank is cleaner- I just assumed that was the case here.
  • April 29 2011
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
Get an attorney, do your own negotiations and or contact a realtor and offer them a flat fee to help you figure out what the house is worth and to help you through the maze of paperwork, or hire an appraiser to tell you both what the house is currently worth.
  • April 30 2011
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An attorney would be your best option.
  • April 30 2011
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I appreciate the previous post.  This is not a grey area: get an attorney.     Period.
  • April 30 2011
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A good real estate attorney is your best option.
  • April 30 2011
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Thanks for your question.  Definitely an attorney.  May cost you a little more but piece of mind that it is done right will be worth it!

Good luck.
  • April 30 2011
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at this point, I think you should get a real estate attorney to draw up your contract and make sure al the t's are crossed and i's are dotted.

You also  need to make sure you have educated yourself, and that the price you are paying is reasonable.
  • April 30 2011
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A "seller carry" or "seller finance" definitely requires the use of a good real estate attorney.  Do not assume that a general attorney can do the job.  To be sure you really are getting the "good deal" (or even just paying market value) you think you're getting, you should have the property appraised by a licensed appraiser.  Be sure to get title insurance, typically paid for by the seller.  This insurance covers you in the event there are other claims to the property (like a bank? or tradespeople? or the neighbor?).  Why is the landlord giving you such a "great deal"?  Has the owner been paying the mortgage?  Is this a short sale?  Is the owner on the way to foreclosure?  The title company can help determine all this, and if so, then short sale negotions with a bank or banks may be needed, as well.
  • April 30 2011
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Thank you for the replies - I appreciate them all, and have gotten information I didn't even know I needed!  I'll work with a real estate attorney, and maybe an agent too since I have some other questions.  There seems to be at least one real estate agent who's also an attorney in the Denver area - I might talk with him.  Anyway, thanks again - this has been very helpful! 
  • May 01 2011
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There are a lot of issues to be considered and, whether you hire a real estate attorney or an experienced real estate broker, do yourself a favor by paying someone to be in your court. Make sure the person you hire understands that you want to make the deal happen. On the other hand, you do not want to look back wishing you had hired someone to assist you. For example, make sure you have an Owner's Extended Coverage title insurance policy. This will provide you some extra assurance that you have clear title.  There are a multitude of issues to be considered.  The cost of having a representative is small in comparison with the amount of headaches this person can save in the future if you miss a big issue.  It's always the unlikely things that cost the most.
  • May 04 2011
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