Should You Hire a Real Estate Agent or Lawyer to Buy a House?

Find out why you will need the services of a real estate agent or lawyer when purchasing a house.

The purchase of a house is perhaps one of the most significant financial transactions that many people will undertake in their lifetime. It is for this very reason that you would probably want to hire a professional instead of plowing through the process by yourself. Most people consider real estate agents to be the best persons for the job of assisting in the search of a property and negotiating on their behalf. There are two categories of real estate agents: home buying agents and home selling agents.

Most sellers have seller’s agents, if not all. Their role is to ensure that their clients get the best rate for their property. On the other hand, buyer’s agents are there to ensure that their clients get a fair transaction using their industry expertise and experience. In an effort to ensure fair dealings between sellers and buyers, there are states that require the use of both seller’s and buyer’s agents.

You also have the option of employing a real estate lawyer to represent your interests when buying a home – and you can hire this professional in addition to, or instead of, a buying agent. It’s important to note that some states require real estate lawyers to prepare home purchase agreements. Whether or not you live in a state where this applies, you might be asking: What is the best option?

Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent

The process of searching for and purchasing a home may sound simple enough on paper, but it can be quite complex. Real estate buying agents have the necessary knowledge and experience with finding property listings and negotiating on your behalf to ensure that you are getting a fair deal. They have established relationships with inspectors and mortgage loan brokers which will help facilitate a smooth transaction for you. These professionals are also experienced with dealing with the required paperwork that purchasing a home entails. Their awareness and understanding of neighborhoods and communities, properties for sale and the sellers behind them, and developers and contractors, among others, also help to make sure that buyers get the best deal possible.

Be wary of dual representation, wherein a seller’s agent also acts as the buyer’s agent, as you will never be sure whether he or she is protecting your interests or the other party’s. Agents are typically paid through commission which usually amounts to around 5 percent of the property’s price. If there are two agents, the agents divide the commission. Note that the commission is paid for by the seller.

In some cases, some buyers opt to hire an agent and pay the commission in order to ensure the agent’s loyalty. This will also allow them to negotiate a lower price for the property.

Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer

Not all states require the use of a lawyer in real estate transactions, especially since these transactions have become standardized in recent years. However, in the event you encounter legal issues, you will need to enlist the help of a real estate attorney to counsel and represent you in court if necessary.

They are also helpful when it concerns reviewing contracts to ensure that all details are covered and included and that your interests are protected. Real estate lawyers are also capable of performing a title search to see if there are liens or legal encumbrances on the property, and advise you on the best course of action.

Lawyers are paid hourly; however, it is possible to find those who charge flat rates for specific services, including preparing real estate closing documents. Let them know upfront if you can only afford to hire them for a limited number of hours, or for specific tasks, and be prepared to negotiate. Make sure to put your agreement down in writing so that there will be no confusion.

The Bottom Line

Whether you choose to hire a real estate agent or lawyer, or both, it’s best to learn as much about the home buying process as you can so you can be as active and involved in it. Arming yourself with information regarding the market value of similar properties in your geographical area comes in handy when you are confronted with aggressive agents who will try to convince you that you won’t get a house unless you bid high. Remember that they have an obligation to provide you with the service you require. On the other hand, you should make your needs and desires clearly known and understood. Make sure that you get all agreements in writing, and provide whatever is required of you by law.