“What is the biggest legal mistake a seller can make?”
As a real estate closing attorney, that’s a question I hear a lot from listing agents who want their clients to avoid legal landmines.
The answer is easy: The biggest legal mistake sellers make is taking a piecemeal approach to getting the legal support they need.
Instead of hiring an attorney to handle all the legal paperwork and negotiations that are part of every closing, sellers end up patching together legal documents and services from different sources. And they do it without the full benefit of advice and guidance from an experienced real estate attorney.
Why is this dangerous? Because sellers who take a patchwork approach to legal services often put their interests — and their closing — at risk. The closing process can be overwhelming for sellers. There’s a lot of paperwork. There’s a lot of numbers. And it’s easy to miss details that can delay or derail your sale.
Just ask the sellers who thought that completing a purchase and sales agreement was a simple matter of filling in the blanks. Or the sellers who thought that the phrase “broom clean” was just a figure of speech. Or the sellers who discovered that their agent wasn’t allowed to give them the critical legal advice they didn’t think they’d need.
Important: Your listing agent is an expert at marketing and selling your home. Your agent may be seasoned and supportive. Your agent has a fiduciary responsibility to protect you. But your agent does not provide the same services as an attorney and they cannot provide legal advice. Experienced agents know that crossing this line isn’t worth the liability. They also understand the value of expert legal advice to keep everything moving forward.
This is why experienced agents urge sellers to retain a real estate closing attorney to represent the seller’s interests.
What’s the best way to find a real estate attorney for your closing?
Ask your listing agent for a recommendation. And keep these tips in mind:
- Start looking for an attorney when you first list your home — not when your closing is 24 hours away. You want an attorney managing the process and working in your best interests long before the actual closing.
- Experience matters. Choose an attorney who focuses on real estate closings. Ask for references from other seller clients. Did the attorney return calls quickly? Did they help solve problems — or point fingers? Would they work with the attorney again?
- Look for an attorney who offers a package of essential seller representation services for a flat fee. Are these services clearly defined? Does the package include preparation and negotiation of all documents? Does it include legal advice and representation up to and through closing?
The closing process can be challenging. Make sure you have an experienced real estate closing attorney on your team to give you the legal support you need — and the peace of mind you deserve.
Selling your home in Massachusetts? Get the legal help you need. For more information, contact J.Blumen & Associates 781-784-2500.