Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer?
In Florida, it is not required to hire a real estate lawyer when buying or selling a property. Do people commonly hire lawyers? We wouldn't say it's common, but we have had clients opt to have an attorney review the sales contract and any paperwork involved in the transaction.
Sometimes clients choose to have an attorney's office handle the entire closing process. Typically though, a title agency handles the closing process, and the real estate agent represents the client's best interest in the transaction. Read more about buyer vs seller representation in our blog: "Buying Agents vs Listing Agents in FL".
What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
A lawyer can perform several services to ensure property ownership transfers from one party to another. Common tasks include:
- Reviewing the property's history to determine whether the current owner actually owns the title and has the right to sell it.
- Searching for liens that would prevent the owner from selling the property.
- Reading contracts to make sure you understand every aspect of the deal.
Note: If a title company is handling the closing, they provide some of the services listed above in conjunction with your real estate agent.
Does the Lawyer Represent Your Interests?
This is an interesting question that many people do not think about until it's too late. Lawyers will represent the interests of the people or companies that hire them. If your mortgage lender hires a lawyer, though, that attorney will work for the lender. That's often helpful, but it doesn't necessarily mean you will benefit.
If the buyer or seller hires a real estate lawyer for your sale or purchase, you might want to consider hiring one to represent you as well. While a lawyer is not required, they do offer legal protection.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
There isn't a fixed price for hiring a real estate lawyer. You can expect to pay about $150 to $200 per hour. If the deal happens without a lot of back and forth, the lawyer might only spend a couple of hours reviewing your documents. A more complicated situation will mean you are spending more money on legal services.
More often than not, the cost of hiring a lawyer gets added to your closing costs. Other closing costs include:
- Title insurance
- Appraisal fees
- Home inspections
- PMI (private mortgage insurance) and other forms of insurance
- Broker fees
- Application fees
- Prepaid interest
Both buyers and sellers cover different closing costs. The sellers’ costs are typically deducted from their proceeds, while buyers typically pay closing costs out-of-pocket. Closing costs can be negotiated as well.