Need for a Lawyer: In many states and most circumstances you can sell a home without a lawyer. We recommend a real estate lawyer for the following services*:
- Acting as Escrow Agent to hold a down payment, binder, or earnest money deposit.
- Evaluating complicated offers from potential Buyers.
- Hosting and handling the Closing, or representing you if the Closing is to be handled by the lending institution's lawyer.
- Evaluating and filing Seller financed mortgages or Lease with Option to Purchase Agreements.
- Evaluating any other document that has to be filed with County or Court.
* Note: An increasing number of states now stipulate the use of an Escrow Agent or Title Company to handle all transfer of real estate. In these states the Escrow Agent performs all the functions our web site ascribes to the "closing attorney." The seller's need for a lawyer is diminished in these states, but in our opinion, still a good investment at the $350-$650 level.
Type of Lawyer:
You want a lawyer who handles real estate as a significant part of his practice. Don't hire a criminal or corporate lawyer who has never handled a real estate closing.
How to find a good Lawyer:
- Talk to neighbors and other people with "For Sale" signs.
- Ask a real estate agent to refer you to a lawyer.
- Ask your pastor, rabbi or other people where your worship.
- LegalMatch will refer you to local real estate attorneys.
- The Lawyers.com site can also help you find a local attorney.
Price* negotiations with a prospective lawyer:
- Determine the fees for:
1. Reading a document and giving advice concerning that document.
2. Representing you at the Closing.
- You should get a significant discount for documents you prepare and fill out versus those the lawyer has to prepare.
- If the fees seem too high, find another lawyer. The Supreme Court has ruled it illegal for bar associations to fix minimum fees, so feel free to bargain and shop for fees you can afford. * ($350 to $650 for handling a basic real estate closing in the Atlanta area)