Whether you’re buying or selling real estate, you want your transactions to go smoothly at a fair price.
In a commercial or residential real estate deal, you can hire an agent or an attorney, or both. Let’s look at the services they provide buyers and sellers.
How Real Estate Agents Represent Their Clients
Real estate agents find and market properties and assess their values. They negotiate, and know how to fill out purchase and sale agreements properly – if you do them yourself, you could make mistakes. Their state real estate commission teaches them and tests them on real estate contracts. They must also take continuing education courses and/or get certifications on subjects such as ethics and buyer’s agency. Agents are helpful for handling showings, attending inspections, and for their opinions on market value.
In Florida, a real estate agent may act as a single agent, a transaction broker, or keep “no representation” status. Many of them act as transaction brokers. A transaction broker works to close a deal and has no loyalty to either party. A single agent represents the buyer or the seller, but not both, and has a fiduciary duty to either one. During this fiduciary relationship, the agent must avoid becoming interested in the transaction and act with the highest standard of care.
Agents with no brokerage relationship must deal honestly and fairly with the customer. They must disclose all known facts that materially affect the value of the residential property if they are not readily observable, and account for all funds entrusted to the licensee.
Real estate agents don’t provide and aren’t supposed to offer legal advice. They often hire lawyers for help in closing deals.
Nowadays, agents aren’t always necessary. With online property listings and free market valuations available, you can sell a property yourself. Some buyers and sellers choose to forego paying a commission, and are comfortable doing the work themselves. Independent sellers list their properties as For Sale by Owner (FSBO) to avoid paying commissions. If you decide to create your own listing, a lawyer can handle your offers instead.
What a Real Estate Lawyer Can Do For You
Many of the laws regarding residential real estate deals don’t apply to commercial transactions. For residential transactions, you might think you do not need a real estate lawyer at the beginning, but you may need one later if disputes or potential lawsuits arise. While in many cases that may be true disputes and lawsuits can be avoided if the potential issues are addressed before the contract is signed. For commercial deals, because of their more complex process and regulations, it’s advisable to hire a lawyer for drafting offers, negotiating contracts, and overseeing the closing process.
Lawyers also aren’t closely involved in the deal, so they will work in your best interest to give you sound advice. They add a level of protection for contracts and negotiations and may save you time and money in the end.
If you rely on form contracts and documents for your transactions, you might run into legal issues. Neither they nor a real estate agent can address all the issues of a real estate transaction. Forms are a good starting point but each form needs to be tailored for the particular transaction since no two transactions are exactly alike.
And if you engage a real estate attorney early in the process, you’ll be ahead of any disputes that occur later.
An attorney can draft, review, and add clauses to protect buyers in negotiations and with mortgage terms. They also record the deeds and mortgage documents, examine the inspection report mortgage companies require in residential transactions, and renegotiate the price based on the inspection report and its findings. They may also check the title for problems to ensure no one else holds an interest in the property and that you have full title to it before the closing. They can help you understand property surveys and any issues that occur after you move in. And they may advise you on the Florida Homestead Exemption.
For commercial transactions, a real estate attorney can review leases or purchase or sale agreements, investigate zoning and land use issues, and negotiate the best price for your peace of mind. They can meet tight time frames for review of a contract before it’s set to expire.
Closing agents may lack experience with issues that weren’t addressed before you bought the property, such as liens, needed repairs, and fines for violations. It helps to have someone on your side to address these potential concerns – ideally, before you even close on a property.
When you start working with a real estate attorney before you have an immediate need, you ensure that your attorney knows your goals and can step in to give you advice. You want to protect your investment. It’s crucial to hire a real estate lawyer to handle all the legal details for a smooth transaction.
At Kleiner Law Group, we have extensive experience without the expensive price tag. Besides handling your commercial real estate deals, we can also help with the tax implications of a purchase, title searches, insurance, and other title services. We’re ready to help you. Contact us today.