Home purchases and sales are probably the largest transactions you'll ever make. To do either, you must sign one or more contracts along the way, possibly including a purchase agreement or a mortgage contract, as well as the final closing documents. Therefore, even though you'll likely be working with a professional realtor, it can pay to have an attorney by your side throughout the process, to be sure you understand all the legal documents with which you'll be dealing.

Before the Final Sale

Nobody can sell a home that they don't own completely, free of any liens or encumbrances. Likewise, you can't buy a home from a seller who doesn't own a clear title. An attorney can perform a comprehensive title search to make sure the home's title is clear. Otherwise, either seller or buyer may have to shell out some unexpected, last-minute cash to clear the way for a sale. With foreknowledge, the buyer can ensure that the seller settles any liens prior to closing.

Additionally, your attorney can review any pre-sale documents to make sure your interests are protected against foreseeable problems. For instance, it's common to make a purchase agreement dependent on the buyer obtaining financing. But what if you, as a buyer, sign the agreement – which is legally binding – and financing is available, but at a higher interest rate than you expected. Would you be obligated to accept the higher rate and purchase the home? If an attorney had reviewed the purchase agreement, and changed the wording to make the agreement conditional upon you obtaining financing at or below a specific rate, you could withdraw from the agreement without any concern.

At the Closing

By reviewing the voluminous closing documents prior to the sale, your attorney can verify that the contracts accord with national and provincial law, and that all your interests are secured. As the seller, the attorney can ensure that you've made all proper disclosures regarding any home defects, so you won't risk facing a lawsuit in the future. As the buyer, your lawyer can guarantee that you receive everything you expect. For example, if you're expecting to receive the refrigerator you saw in the home's kitchen, the attorney will put that agreement into the final contract. Otherwise, the seller has the right to remove the refrigerator, and you may enter your new home with no place to store your food, plus an additional expense on your hands. When the sale is complete, your lawyer can verify that the funds are transferred properly, and that your new deed is registered correctly with your municipality.

In the end, hiring a real estate lawyer ensures that you have someone working solely to protect your interests throughout the home buying or selling experience. For more information, contact Kasman Sheldon L & Associate LLP or a similar firm.