Thursday, February 4, 2016

Do you need an attorney for a real estate closing? Yes, you do, but the real question is what kind?

I get a few calls a week from people looking to buy a home and they “want an attorney”. But do they really? I always offer to meet and discuss representation but then I hear "I have a guy who will do it for $--- and if you won't beat that price, then there is no reason for us to talk."

I understand that some things can be bought like a meal at a fast food restaurant but that is not how I work. Here is what I have been told is the normal process for a low-cost closing attorney:
-     Initial contact with client                                  10 minutes
-     Review deadline dates                                      10 minutes
-     Send letter of introduction to seller                  10 minutes
-     Call with amount to bring to closing                10 minutes
-     Attend closing                                                  60-90 minutes
                                                                TOTAL: 1.5 – 2 hours

This works well for simple transactions and with very well-versed buyers. The problem is that a lot can happen in a real estate deal and often times the transactions can be more complicated than you realize. Lawyers who charge a fair price and offer in-depth service follow more of the process below:
-     Initial contact with client                                         10 minutes
-     Review contract and terms including dates,          45 minutes
      request additional time for attorney review and
-     Call client and set meeting to review terms           10 minutes
      of contract. Request that the inspection be
      sent over prior for review.
-     Meet with clients to go over terms of contract      60 minutes
      and confirm that they have full understanding.
      Talk about financing and the results from
       inspection. Explain the attorney
       review period and talk about changes and credits 
       they need. Talk about money needed at closing.
-     Draft attorney review letter and send to                30 minutes
       the seller.
-     Call client with the reply.                                        10 minutes
-     Call lender for status and confirm closing             15 minutes
       date. If  an extension is needed for the mortgage 
       contingency draft letter and send.
-     Review title and communicate any issues with     20 minutes
       the seller.
-     Days prior to closing notify client of amount to    10 minutes
       bring to closing
-      Attend closing and review all documents        60-90 minutes
       with client so that there is full understanding.
                                                                    TOTAL:  4.5 - 5 hours

At the end of the day the real question is What do you want when you buy your home?

A true story from this week: a man called and told me that he and his wife bought a condo 3 years ago and lived there quite happily. The plan from the start was to move out and rent the unit for income when they were ready to start a family. The couple placed an ad and found a renter, but someone from the condo told them they could not rent the unit out and that rule was in the condo documents. Although the realtor knew renting the unit out later was their desire and there were other renters in the building, that restriction was never raised by the low-cost attorney that the couple used. Now their income dream is crumbling and they will have to sell the condo.

The process of buying a home may be handled by a transactional attorney, but it is your home and greatest investment and should be treated as more than just a simple transaction. 

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