Real estate agents have the potential to earn big commissions. Those commissions are typically paid by the seller of a property. However, they can be split between the parties in a sales transaction or indirectly passed along to the buyer through the price or other hidden costs. Real estate attorneys charge high hourly rates or flat fees. These costs and fees raise the question of whether to use a real estate agent and/or a lawyer to help buy a home.
Each state has real estate laws governing the duties and responsibilities of home buyers. Generally, assistance of a real estate agent is not required legally. Real estate agents are often available to help with important tasks like preparing the purchase contract, negotiating on price and working through home inspections. Some states, though, mandate that a licensed attorney is the only party permitted to prepare a home purchase agreement, complete a title search on a property and perform the closing.
Most home buyers find the process complex and challenging. They prefer to navigate it with the assistance of a real estate agent. There is quite a bit of paperwork required. Real estate agents are familiar and comfortable with the forms.
The home-buying process can happen fast and involves hiring inspectors, negotiating payments for any repairs and communicating back and forth with sellers. Real estate agents are able to navigate this process with ease because they encounter these situations all the time. Agents can often assist clients by offering contacts in fields like home inspection, mortgage brokers and closing attorneys. It is prudent for buyers to have their own agent instead of just using one who represents the sellers.
Real estate transactions do not necessitate hiring an attorney except in states where this is required by law. The transactions are fairly standard, with form contracts containing boilerplate text. If legal issues arise that a real estate agent cannot address, it could be necessary to hire an attorney, however.
Zoning issues, subleasing issues, contract interpretation issues, title discrepancies or similar complexities probably outside the realm of comfort for a real estate agent might arise. Some legal issues can only be addressed by an attorney because legal advice must be given, which is not something a real estate agent is qualified to do.