For most people, the sale or purchase of real estate does not happen very often. Aside from real estate investors, the average person, family, or small business does not engage in the purchase or sale of real estate but once every couple of years or as infrequently as once every couple of decades. When transactions involving the purchase or sale of real estate do come up, though, they tend to be important.
Real estate purchases and sales usually involve large dollar amounts. Houses, condos, buildings, farms, and raw land, depending on their size, can fetch anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars (with no real floor or ceiling being placed on either side of that fairly ordinary range). A number somewhere on that spectrum might be the largest transaction a person, family, or small business ever closes. For that reason alone, it is worthwhile to retain or engage legal counsel that can advise as to risks, draft or review relevant real estate documents, and/or negotiate on a buyer’s or seller’s behalf.
Legal counsel can provide immense value whether on the sale or purchase side of the transaction. Buying real estate might be akin to making an investment whereas as selling real estate might be akin to cashing out. Either way, the dollar amount is likely the same! The legal work performed for buyers versus sellers of real estate, though, is different. An attorney representing a buyer takes the buyer’s interests into account, and an attorney representing a seller takes the seller’s interests into account. Their interests are often different. An attorney most likely should not represent, and might be prohibited from representing, each party in the same transaction because of rules in place pertaining to conflicts of interest, among other reasons.
Those with significant real estate experience may know that hiring an attorney to advise on real estate disputes can be expensive. Fees can quickly run into the thousands, perhaps without a definite end in sight. While hiring legal counsel is no guarantee that a real estate dispute will not arise in the future, doing so is often a step in the right direction, and this law firm has been involved with a number of real estate disputes that probably could have been avoided had legal counsel been engaged or retained during the course of the transaction as opposed to afterwards. Competent legal counsel can help identify areas of concern or risk before a transaction closes and clarify ambiguities. This law firm has seen numerous instances of transactions that could have resulted in poor outcomes for its affected clients had the timing of the firm’s engagement been after the closings took place instead of before them.
Real estate transactions do not have to reach a certain level of complication, or animosity, to justify attorney involvement. An attorney can provide assistance in “simple” transactions as well as complex ones, irrespective of whether the parties are getting along nicely or at each other’s throats. For example, a Kansas or Missouri real estate lawyer can be an asset in a for sale by owner (FSBO) transaction, a situation in which the homeowner wants to list his or her home for sale (possibly through Zillow) without the use of a real estate agent or real estate broker. In this situation, the lawyer can help with drafting the real estate contract, deed of conveyance, and other documents, as well as reviewing title documentation, advising on disclosure matters, and addressing items that may arise during the closing process.
It is important to hire legal counsel that is licensed (and ideally located) in the jurisdiction where the physical property is being purchased or sold. Hiring an attorney who is licensed in New York or California for a Kansas or Missouri real estate transaction would not necessarily make a lot of sense, to say nothing of issues concerning the unauthorized practice of law. There are situations in which an attorney may need to physically appear at a recorder of deeds office, register of deeds office, courthouse, bank, or title office, a potentially significant undertaking if the attorney’s law office is located hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
As it relates to purchases and sales of real estate, you may wish to continue exploring our content by reading the following blog articles: “Should You Use an Attorney or a Real Estate Agent to Sell or Purchase Your Home?“, “Real Estate Contracts vs. Real Estate Deeds: Does One Trump the Other?“, and “Warranty Deeds vs. Quitclaim Deeds“. You may also wish to read more about associated legal services, reviewing commercial leases and reviewing residential leases, on our website.
This law firm has significant experience with the purchase and sale of real estate, whether commercial, residential, agricultural, or raw ground. If you would like to make an appointment regarding a real estate law matter, specifically about a real estate purchase or real estate sale in Kansas or Missouri, please feel free to conveniently schedule with us here.