A real estate purchase or sale involves details of real estate law that the ordinary person never even knew existed. First, any agreement to buy or sell real estate has to be in writing. That written contract spells out the rights and obligations of both the buyer and the seller. Without that written contract, any agreement to buy or sell property is unenforceable. Whether you listed your home through a broker, or you’re trying to sell it yourself, an experienced real estate lawyer can be invaluable in closing the transaction on time and on the terms that you agreed to.

Buyer Issues

Deadlines are important to both sides of a real estate transaction. Aside from the closing date, buyers are required to apply for a mortgage within a short time of the date of contract, and they must obtain a commitment for a certain type of mortgage, at a specified amount and interest rate by a designated date. Those deadlines are incredibly important. It’s likely that the contract to purchase and sell spells out the seller’s remedies. If those deadlines aren’t met, those remedies can be difficult for a buyer to swallow.

Assuming everything proceeds on a timely basis, there are still multiple issues that could arise at closing, especially those that involve clear title to the property being purchased. Liens, clouds or encumbrances on title could come back to haunt the buyer 10 years later when he or she wants to sell the property to somebody else. An experienced real estate lawyer picks those issues up right away.

Seller Issues

Sellers have their own special obligations under real estate contracts. Since most sales of property involve warranty deeds, the seller is required to prove that he or she has sole and merchantable title to the property. Any liens, clouds or encumbrances on title must be cleared before closing. Assuming the contract between the parties does call for a warranty deed, a buyer can walk away from a closing if a title defect hasn’t been cured. That’s when everybody goes their own way, and nobody is very happy. Other issues might involve encroachments, mortgage payoffs, possession of the premises, zoning issues or compliance with divorce decrees.

Given the state of the economy and the real estate market, a seller might owe substantially more money on his or her home than it’s worth. That could result in a short sale to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy. The seller must arrive at some type of agreement with his or her lender to accept less than what’s owed on the actual mortgage payoff, and it’s highly likely that in such a complex transaction, an experienced real estate attorney will be needed.

You might only see a real estate attorney at a closing and wonder why you’re paying him or her for two hours of work.Real estate law can get detailed and complex very quickly. It’s the work that your real estate lawyer did at his or her office before you ever got to the closing table that matters the most.