Buying a home is a complex, often emotional process fraught with potential problems and legal or technical questions. That’s why so many people hire realtors and real estate attorneys to help them with the purchase and sale process. However, there are also many people who question which is a better choice to help with the purchase of a home — a real estate agent or a lawyer? The short answer is “that depends – is your transaction more likely to run into a lot of property-related questions or are there some legal issues that might affect or even derail the transaction?” The ideal answer would be to hire a realtor lawyer, because they can provide both services; however, there are few professionals who can claim to be a realtor lawyer – a professional licensed to provide both services – so a choice has to be made.
If you ask a realtor about the realtor lawyer dilemma, they’re likely to say “you definitely want a real estate agent” because they know the specific neighborhoods in which you might be interested and can tell you all about the municipal services, quality of schools, and other relevant information pertaining to the area in which the home is located. They can also produce a comparative market analysis, help spot property defects, and negotiate for repairs.
The downside to hiring just a real estate agent is that, by law, they cannot provide legal advice. If they do, they can lose their license. Unfortunately, many real estate clients don’t understand this, perhaps thinking that a real estate agent is, in fact, a realtor lawyer and they become frustrated when they can’t get when they think is a simple answer from their agent for what is actually a legal question.
A great example of this problem is a real estate transaction question such as “can I cancel the purchase contract and still get my deposit back?” The best a real estate agent can do is perhaps mention their experience with this issue, but must avoid providing advice or an opinion. Likewise, the buyer might have a simple question about the title but, once again, that’s a legal question and must be answered by legal counsel.
The best answer under most circumstances is to hire both a realtor and an attorney. Fortunately, there are law firms, such as the Law Office of David Rocheford, that specialize in real estate law and can provide buyers, sellers, and real estate agents with expert, informed legal opinions. In many ways, a firm like David Rocheford acts as a realtor lawyer because we can provide legal assistance to real estate firms as well as buyers and sellers.
So while there may not be a practicing realtor lawyer in the area, it’s possible to have the next best thing – real estate law experts such as the Law Office of David Rocheford with the legal experience and expertise you would want in a realtor lawyer.
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