Why You Might Need a Real Estate Attorney to Sell Your Home

july 03, 2020 | home selling
Real estate attorney advising two women

Leveraging a Real Estate Attorney to Sell Your House

Hiring a real estate attorney to help with selling your home might seem like a luxury, and an expensive one at that, but a home sale can come with any number of complicating factors that are beyond the knowledge or skill of the average homeowner or even real estate agent. In those instances, you’ll be glad to have a lawyer on your side to work through issues on your behalf.

9 Reasons You Might Need an Attorney When Selling Your Home:

Local laws

Depending upon where you live, it might be required by law that you use an attorney for at least part of the process of selling your home; check with your real estate agent or look at the laws in your area to see if attorneys are required in your state. 

For sale by the owner (FSBO)

If you’re opting to forego working with a real estate agent in selling your home, then you’ll almost certainly want to find an attorney to aid you in selling your home under FSBO. Whether you have an agent or not, there’s still considerable paperwork to prepare and review in the process, plus laws, disclosures, and regulations to be aware of, and those aren’t items you can likely navigate alone. A lawyer can help you through the documentation portion and numerous steps of the process and can prove invaluable if other issues arise during the sale.

Liens and judgments

If you have any outstanding liens or judgments against your property, you’ll need to resolve them before you go through with any sale, and might want to take care of any problems even before engaging with a buyer. An attorney will help you by negotiating with lienholders or creditors to ensure they’re paid what is owed and these encumbrances are removed, for the sale to go through.  

Title issues

Liens or judgments are the most frequent issues that are found when a title search is done, but aren’t the only problems that can be uncovered. Clerical errors, illegal deeds, or even previously unknown heirs to the property can bring the sale to a halt, and all require the help of an attorney to navigate.


Your property might have an easement upon it that gives another party access or right to use some portion of the land, which, depending on the nature and extent, may not be an appealing feature to a potential buyer. Sellers may want to determine the durability of that easement in event of sale, or see if there is a way to terminate the easement in advance, and an experienced attorney can answer those questions and take any action necessary or available. 


Many couples that buy a home together eventually split up, and handling the eventual sale of the home can be tricky if both names remain on the deed and mortgage. If you’ve gone through, or are going through a divorce, and are looking to sell your shared home, you’ll need to untangle the home’s ownership and coordinate the closing signatures, disposition of the home, and proceeds from the sale.

Foreclosures/short sales

If you’re experiencing financial trouble and are far enough behind on your mortgage payments that foreclosure is a reality or a very likely possibility, you’ll likely want help to figure out what your options are. An attorney can help you negotiate with your mortgage company to determine if there is a way to modify or refinance your loan to avoid foreclosure, or if not, can help negotiate a short sale, with any loan forgiveness and any other requirements to get out of your current home and mortgage.


Renters might prove an unwanted complication for anyone selling what is not explicitly a rental property, and dealing with tenants requires caution to prevent violating their rights. The fact that the property is for sale doesn’t necessarily mean you can tell them to pack up and leave; the lease terms and tenant’s actions must be considered. In addition to the lease, there are laws governing landlords and evictions, and any mistake could result in a tenant taking legal action. Talking with an attorney about what you’re permitted to do (or not do) will allow you to manage at least the tenant aspect of the sale with confidence.


Not every home sale is your property or at least the property you call your own. Inheriting a home from a family member as a trustee or beneficiary is complicated in and of itself, and trying to sell that home, with any of the trust and tax implications to go along with the standard home-selling challenges, is going to make things exceedingly difficult to manage on your own. Complex sales such as these are exactly why many people choose to turn to real estate attorneys to ensure that everything is done in accordance with the law, and that your inheritance doesn’t become a financial albatross around your neck.

There are a number of issues that might derail your home sale, and that fact is enough to compel many to work with a real estate attorney. It’s better to be prepared for problems that don’t ultimately arise than to be left scrambling to address a situation you hadn’t planned for, particularly on the eve of your closing. Selling your home is important enough to get right the first time, and a real estate attorney can help ensure everything is in order on the legal side. 

LegalShield Attorneys Want to Help You Through Your Home Selling Journey

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LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.

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