Hiring a real estate attorney as a seller can help you close a transaction while also protecting you from liability and stressful complications.
In Florida, lawyers are not mandatory in a real estate transaction but are highly advised. From the moment the contract is signed through to closing, many things could go wrong. An attorney will ensure they don’t – saving you money and from disaster.
How a Real Estate Lawyer Helps a Seller
Contracts are critical in any real estate transaction. They cover all sorts of agreements, terms and contingencies.
As a seller, a real estate lawyer will draft the contract to ensure it is to your benefit and protects you from circumstances such as delays, structural problems or liens on the property.
Usually, the buyer will send a proposed purchase contract first. If this happens, then the seller’s attorney will need to review it and request any changes.
If you don’t use a lawyer and problems arise later that you didn’t cover in the contract, then you could lose thousands of dollars in litigation fees.
Negotiating Transaction Terms
Negotiating is a big part of a real estate transaction. Disagreements can arise over inspections, closing dates and earnest money.
As a homeowner, you might not have the negotiating skills to handle a real estate agent or opposing lawyer. An attorney will provide their specialist skills to gain favorable terms.
For FSBOs (For Sale By Owner)
If you’re selling your property alone, without a real estate agent, then you should consider a real estate attorney to handle the paperwork and legal requirements. You must comply with all state laws and property sale requirements, and without an agent’s guidance, you can easily miss minor yet crucial details.
General Legal Advice
Once the real estate contract is signed, you’ll have to wait several weeks or months until closing day.
During this time, the buyer will conduct inspections, sort out financing, and make final arrangements. It is not rare for questions and issues to arise because either party doesn’t know what to do or how to handle a sudden issue.
Your real estate attorney will provide legal advice so you don’t make any costly mistakes and to follow applicable state law at all times.
Common questions include:
- What happens if there is a lien on the property?
- What if the buyer says they can’t close by the deadline?
- What if the buyer finds a problem during the property inspection?
Remember: A real estate agent is not a real estate law expert and cannot provide the same depths of advice as an attorney.
To Resolve Title Issues
If a title defect arises, the buyer can potentially decide to back out of closing. Title defects can arise when multiple owners can’t find an agreement (such as between siblings). However, with the help of a real estate attorney, a seller should be able to resolve the title issue.
Using a simple quitclaim deed or opinion letter should be a relatively quick fix. Alternatively, curative title work may include a quiet title action or probate. Negotiations may also be required with the buyer to extend the contrast while the title is being resolved.
To Draft and Review the Deed
In Florida, two witnesses are required to sign the deed at closing. This is usually delivered by the seller’s attorney, who will have already drafted and reviewed it.
If your title insurance company handles closing, your attorney can still review the deed to prevent issues from arising.
To Assist with Financing Arrangements
If your sale includes financing, then your seller’s attorney may be able to draft or review the financing documents.
Common financing arrangements that may require an attorney include:
- Owner financing
- Lease purchase financing
To Close the Transaction In-House
Some title insurance companies will not offer to close. In that case, a seller’s attorney may allow the closing meeting to occur in their law office.
This common practice gives both parties a safe and suitable place to hold the closing, where documents can be signed easily in the presence of witnesses and notaries.
Learn more: 15 Ways Real Estate Closing Can Go Wrong
To Prevent or Resolve Transaction Disputes
Sadly real estate transactions can descend into legal disputes if things go wrong or terms are not met. In this case, having an attorney on your side from day one is a great benefit. They’ll be in a good position to protect your interests and address the issue fast – with legal expertise and not unprofessional communication.
Handling Out of State Sellers
Florida is the home to many vacation properties. The owners are often from out-of-state or out of the U.S. If this is you, a real estate attorney can be of great help as they’ll be located in Florida to get the necessary paperwork signed and delivered.
This can be especially true for people serving in the military who need legal advice and support while they’re out of Florida.
Make Sure Everything Happens On Time
As a seller, you need to ensure you meet all the necessary deadlines, or you could be left liable. A real estate attorney will keep the ball rolling to meet time-sensitive terms. Missing deadlines could result in canceled transactions or significant financial damage.
How to Find a Real Estate Lawyer?
With over members of the Florida Bar, it’s easy to find a lawyer. The question should be, “how to find a reputable real estate lawyer?”
- Make a Google search.
- Choose a locally-based attorney.
- Only choose a lawyer representing a long-standing law firm.
- Are their lawyers ranked as ‘Super Lawyers’?
- Are they highly ranked and rated, with awards and accolades?
Contact a Real Estate Closing Lawyer in Florida
If you’re selling a property in Florida and need assistance with the closing process, contracts, negotiations or legal action, then our Florida real estate attorneys can help.
We’ll guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are protected. We can also coordinate, prepare and complete documents related to the title, deed, transfer, and loan acquisition.
If you’re selling property or land in St Petersburg, Florida or Riverview, Florida, contact us today.
Our St Petersburg & Riverview real estate attorneys have extensive experience that can help you through these tricky moments, reviewing your contract, advising you on the next steps to secure your transaction, and successfully finalizing the sale of your property.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.