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Do you really need a lawyer for a house sale?

If you're getting ready to sell your home this spring, you're probably anxious to get past the selling part and get packing.

Who wouldn't be, right?

Unfortunately, sellers often think that realtors can guide them through all the legal issues that can go along with selling a house. While realtors are often fairly experienced, they simply aren't equipped to handle all problems. Here are some things to consider:

Your agreement with the realtor could actually become a problem

Many realtors use a standard form that they hand to every client. However, a lot of those contracts are problematic for sellers.

What happens if the realtor ends up being a dud? If you've signed an agreement that doesn't give you a way out, you could be stuck with his or her inept dealings for half the year. That's a long time to wait to pack!

You may also get stuck with substantial fees if something happens (like a sudden illness in the family) that causes you to withdraw your listing for a while.

A real estate law attorney can protect you from signing an agreement that puts you at a serious disadvantage from the start of the deal -- or at least explains everything you're about to agree to in concrete terms.

Your contract with a buyer can be misleading

There are a number of issues that can trap unwary sellers in contracts. For example:

  • What exactly does the buyer think are ordinary household fixtures? You both may have very different ideas -- and your idea might not include the back garden statues or the vintage chandelier that you inherited from your mother that the buyer wants.
  • What happens if you aren't out of the house on the day of closing? Most buyers assume that they'll have a grace period to make their move -- but that can end up being a major problem and an unexpected expense if the buyer doesn't agree and there is no written provision.
  • What issues must you disclose to the buyer? Under the law, do you need to disclose the fact that someone died violently in the home years ago? What about robberies?

Not all realtors know how to address these kinds of issues. Forgetting them can not only sour a deal and put your move off indefinitely -- it could leave you open to accusations of fraud and lawsuits later.

Source: FindLaw, "Why You Need a Lawyer When You Buy or Sell a House," accessed March 27, 2018

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