Many homebuyers find themselves asking, “Do I need a lawyer to sell my house?” While hiring a real estate attorney to help you navigate the home-selling process may seem like a luxury, and an expensive one at that, it may be essential. In fact, many states require that a lawyer is involved in the sale of a home. Beyond local laws, there are many reasons to seek the counsel of a real estate attorney and hiring one is more affordable than you might think.
Selling your home can come with many complicating factors that are beyond the knowledge or skill of the average homeowner or even real estate agent. Whether you need help navigating title or tenant issues, a foreclosure or something else entirely, you’ll be glad to work with a real estate attorney when the sale of your home gets complicated.
So, do you need a lawyer to sell your house? You might. Read on for nine reasons to hire a real estate attorney.
9 Reasons You Need a Lawyer to Sell Your House
1. Adhere to Local Laws
There are many issues to avoid when selling your home and violating local laws is indeed one of them. Depending upon where you live, you may be legally required to involve a real estate lawyer in the process of selling your home. Consult with your real estate agent and/or an experienced lawyer to see if a real estate attorney is required in your state. Even if your state doesn’t require that you hire a lawyer to sell your home, it’s still worthwhile to consider hiring one for the reasons listed below.
2. Navigate a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Arrangement
A For Sale By Owner (FSBO) arrangement is the process of selling your home without the representation of an agent or broker. Do I need a lawyer to sell my house privately, you ask? While being independent has its perks, there is still a considerable amount of paperwork to prepare and review during the home-selling process. In addition, there are laws, disclosures and regulations that you will likely need help navigating. A real estate lawyer can guide you through the numerous steps of the process and provide invaluable insight if issues arise during the sale.
3. Resolve Liens & Judgments
You’ll need to settle any existing judgements or liens on your property before you sell your home.
Frankly, you may want to address these issues before you even list your home, as you don’t want any liens or judgments to scare off potential buyers. A real estate attorney can help you negotiate payment with creditors or lienholders and ensure that these hindrances are removed.
4. Settle Title Issues
When a title search is done, liens or judgments frequently crop up, but these aren’t the only problems that can be discovered. Illegal deeds, clerical errors or even previously unknown heirs can derail your home sale and put your plans on hold. An experienced real estate attorney can help you navigate these issues with confidence and ease.
Perhaps ownership of a property has two or more parties, called tenancy in common. Bradd S. Robbins, an attorney with Willinger, Willinger & Bucci, P.C., a LegalShield provider law firm, explains more about this property ownership structure in a U.S. News & World Report article, What Is ‘Tenants in Common’?
5. Address Easements
Your property may have an easement that gives another party rights to access or use your land for a certain purpose. For example, the government may be entitled to lay down gas pipes or railroad tracks on your property. If the easement is restrictive enough, it may send potential buyers running for the hills. As a seller, you may wish to determine the durability of the easement or terminate it altogether. An experienced lawyer can resolve this issue on your behalf.
6. Take the Pain Out of a Sale After Divorce
Sadly, some married couples split up and selling your shared home can be complicated if both parties are named on the mortgage and deed. If you’re already divorced or in the process, you’ll need to unravel your home’s ownership and manage the disposition of the home, closing signatures and proceeds from the sale. Without the help of a real estate attorney, this complex process can add unnecessary stress and fan the already blazing fire of resentment between you and your ex.
7. Prevent or Ease the Burden of a Foreclosure
No one wants to lose their beloved home, but people get ill, lose their jobs or face other unexpected struggles. With LegalShield’s affordable monthly plans, you can get access to a real estate lawyer to help you move forward, without breaking the bank. If you’re in financial trouble, a real estate lawyer can help you reach a deal with your mortgage provider to adjust or refinance your loan and avoid foreclosure. If this isn’t an option, a lawyer can help you negotiate a short sale with loan forgiveness and any other requirements that will help you move forward.
8. Deal with Tenants Without Headaches
While renters are great when you need help with the mortgage, they may create unwanted complications when you wish to sell your home. But you can’t just tell your tenants to hit the road; tenants have rights and you need to respect those rights legally. In addition to any lease agreements in place, there are laws governing evictions and landlords. Speak with an attorney to manage the tenant aspect of your home sale carefully to prevent legal action.
9. Make a Complex Estate Sale Simple
Inheriting a home from a family member can be complicated and trying to sell that home adds trust and tax implications that make the process even more perplexing. Estate sales are one of many reasons people seek the counsel of a real estate attorney. An experienced real estate lawyer can ensure that everything is done in accordance with the law and that your inheritance doesn’t become a financial monkey on your back.
We Can Help Ease the Stress of Selling Your Home
There are many issues that could derail the sale of your home and, for most, that’s enough of a reason to work with a real estate attorney. From title issues to easements and beyond, an experienced real estate lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of selling your home. With Personal Plans starting at just $29.95 a month, a LegalShield lawyer can help you sell your home without breaking the bank, so you can close this chapter of your life—and your home sale—without headaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you need legally to sell a house?
There are certain legalities that go into selling a home and real estate law requires many documents. You may be required to present your deed or mortgage agreement, a plat or survey of your property and your most recent real estate tax bill, among other documents. You will also need to prepare the sale contract with the purchase price, the closing dates, conditions and any subjects you and the buyer have agreed upon. Before you proceed, be sure that you comply with and understand federal and state fair housing and disclosure laws.
What does a real estate attorney do for a seller?
A real estate attorney can be an invaluable part of the home-selling process. A real estate lawyer can help you navigate a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) arrangement, resolve liens and judgments, settle title issues and address property easements that may be hindering your ability to sell. A lawyer can also help you handle a complex home sale, including selling your home with tenants or selling due to divorce or foreclosure.
Do you need a lawyer to sell your house? Can I sell my house privately without a solicitor?
In some states, homeowners are legally required to involve a lawyer in the home-selling process. However, you can proceed under a FSBO arrangement and sell your home without a real estate agent if you choose to do so. Even if your state doesn’t require it, there are many reasons you need a lawyer to sell your house, as outlined below.
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 legalshield.com 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.