Home buying is a complex process and even more so when it’s your first home. No doubt, buying a home will be the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life. It also involves the law of real property, which is unique and raises special issues of practice, and problems not present in other transactions. A real estate lawyer is trained to deal with these problems and has the most experience to deal with them.
Stewart Melvin & Frost is one of Northeast Georgia’s largest and fastest growing law firms and is widely respected as an “Uncommon Practice” – the firm features an experienced team of attorneys, each of whom is recognized as an expert in highly specialized areas of the law.
Question: We know that an attorney needs to be involved at the closing but how else can an attorney be helpful in the buying and selling of a home?
Jenifir: Perhaps the most important reason to be represented by an attorney is that throughout the process, the buyer’s and seller’s interests can be at odds with each other, and even with those of professionals involved in the sale. The broker generally serves the seller, and the lender is obtained by the buyer. Both want to see the deal go through, since that is how they will get paid. Neither can provide legal counsel.
The respective lawyers for the buyer and seller will serve only their own clients’ best interests. Seeking the advice of a lawyer is a very good idea from the time you decide to sell or to buy a home until the actual closing.
Question: What are some of the instances where an attorney can help you avoid mistakes?
Jenifir: The legal consequences from mistakes or omissions during the process can cause you some major headaches.
An attorney who specializes in residential real estate can review your purchase contract before you sign it. This is especially recommended for first-time homebuyers.
Excitement and anxiety tend to take over when you buy your first house, which makes it easy to miss critical terms.
Question: What other areas can an attorney be helpful in the sale of a house?
Jenifir: The buyer and seller each may have to consult with a lawyer to answer important questions, such as the tax consequences of the transaction. To a seller, the tax consequences may be of critical importance. For example, the income tax consequences of a sale, particularly if the seller makes a large profit, may be considerable.
An attorney can advise whether the seller can take advantage of tax provisions allowing for exclusion of capital gains in certain circumstances.
Question: What is the attorney’s role at closing?
Jenifir: The closing is the most important event in the purchase and sale transaction. The deed and other closing papers must be prepared. Title passes from seller to buyer, who pays the balance of the purchase price. Frequently, this balance is paid in part from the proceeds of a mortgage loan.
A closing statement should be prepared prior to the closing indicating the debits and credits to the buyer and seller. An attorney is helpful in explaining the nature, amount, and fairness of closing costs. The deed and mortgage instruments are signed, and an attorney can be assure that these documents are appropriately executed and explained to the various parties.