In Central Florida, a Real Estate Attorney’s help is not legally required when buying a new home, though real estate attorney agents can help you with tasks that border on legal ones, such as preparing a home purchase contract.
So, Why Should Home Buyers Hire a Real Estate Agent?
The process of buying a home is not as easy as many believe, and most people find it’s easiest to get through with an agent by their side. Paperwork will be flying around like a small tornado. They may also cover:
- Hiring inspectors
- Negotiating over who pays for needed repairs
- Keeping up good relations with the sellers
- … and more.
All of this is second nature to an experienced real estate agent. What’s more, experienced agents usually have contacts with good inspectors, mortgage loan officers or brokers, and others who can make your buying process easier.
They know what’s considered appropriate behavior and practice in your geographical area.
IMPORTANT: Do not Use the Seller’s Agent
One of the best reasons to hire a real estate agent is that the sellers are likely to use their own agent—and you want to keep that agent away from taking over the process.
In fact, the seller’s agent might pressure you to let them represent both seller and buyer, in a “dual agency” relationship that primarily benefits the seller.
Even With a Real Estate Agent, You’ll Want to Take an Active Role in the Buying Process
You’re the only one who really knows what you want in your future home. Even if your agent is scouting out homes for you, there’s a lot to be said for scanning the listings and, if possible, attending open houses yourself.
Although good agents know a lot about the negotiating and contracting part of the process, they can’t make judgments on legal questions.
You might even discover that your agent doesn’t understand your needs as well as you thought, or won’t take you to see “FSBO” (for sale by owner) listings, in which case you’ll definitely want to be proactive during this process.
A Few Reasons to Hire an Attorney to Help With Buying a New Home
When buying a home in Florida you are not required to hire an attorney. By now, real estate transactions are so standardized that most people in your state will use the exact same purchase contract (usually prepared by the state real estate agent’s association), just filling in a few blanks.
However, legal issues might arise that your real estate agent can’t answer. In that case, you’ll need an attorney’s help. Although good agents know a lot about the negotiating and contracting part of the process, they can’t make judgments on legal questions.
For example, what if your prospective new home has an illegal in-law unit with an existing tenant whom you want to evict in order to rent the place to a friend? Only a lawyer can say with any certainty whether your plans are feasible. Or what if you’d like to rent the home for an extended period, such as a year before you’re obligated to buy it? That will require drawing up an unusual lease. Or, if you’re drafting any non-standard language for the purchase contract, or are concerned about some language in your mortgage, you might want to have an attorney look the documents over.
How Real Estate Agents Are Paid
Real estate agents normally work on commission, not salary. They receive their slice only after your home search is over, the contract negotiated, and the transaction complete.
The seller typically pays the commission to both the seller’s agent and your agent – usually around 5% of the sales price, to be split between the two agents (sometimes evenly, sometimes favoring the seller’s agent, who does most of the work). This percentage isn’t cast in stone, however. For example, the seller might negotiate the overall percentage down if the home is particularly expensive. Some buyers’ agents have even been known to offer the buyer a percentage of their commission at closing.
Variations on the typical commission arrangement also exist.
For example, some buyers prefer to hire an agent and pay the commission themselves, figuring it will make the agent more loyal to the buyer’s interests, and provide grounds for a drop in the sales price. Less commonly, you might find an agent willing to perform limited tasks for an hourly fee rather than a full commission.
Agents Paid on Commission Have Built-In Conflict of Interest
Even an agent who represents only you, and not the seller, has a financial interest in seeing the deal go through. While experienced, reputable agents won’t let this interfere with their advice to you, it might cause less scrupulous agents to insist that you’ll never get the home unless you bid high; to recommend home inspectors who make light of potential problems, or to otherwise compromise your interests.
How Real Estate Attorneys Are Paid
Attorneys normally charge by the hour, at rates ranging from $150 to $500. You might also find attorneys who charge flat fees for specific services, such as preparing real estate closing documents.
Although many attorneys prefer handling the entire case with a “blank check” regarding hours to be spent and tasks to be accomplished, you’re hiring the attorney, and you can call the shots.
Do You Have Any Questions?
**This blog is for general informational purposes only. Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A. does not distribute legal advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute legal or other professional advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created between the reader and Cipparone & Cipparone, P.A.Tags: Florida Attorneys, legal support, real estate law