As the only member of your home-buying team who is qualified to give you legal advice, a good Florida real estate lawyer is worth his or her weight in gold during key points of the process. If you have the presence of mind to hire a real estate lawyer before you sign a purchase contract, you'll do yourself the favor of making sure that your home-buying experience goes as smoothly as possible and that potential problems are solved before closing. And, as long as your real estate lawyer issues your title insurance, you won't pay more by involving him or her early on.
Your Florida real estate lawyer can answer a lot of nitty-gritty questions, including some very important ones that you may or may not know to ask:
What are my income tax and estate tax consequences?
What do I need to know about Florida property taxes, zoning or special assessments?
How will I handle probate issues?
How can I simplify a future sale?
Is the property's recorded legal description accurate?
Will I be able to use the property as I wish?
Will the title to the property be marketable if I decide to sell or refinance later?
Getting it done.
Having a Florida real estate lawyer on your side can help make sure your interests are faithfully upheld. And the earlier in the process you involve a real estate lawyer (e.g., pre-contract signing), the more value you gain. One of the greatest benefits of using an attorney is that he or she has an ethical obligation to work on behalf of your best interest.
Plus, your real estate attorney is versed in Florida real estate law and will either personally perform or make sure the following procedures are completed in a timely, professional manner:
Review the contract and ensure that all provisions and contingencies are in your best interest
Inform you of your legal rights and obligations
Obtain a title search, evaluate the status of the title and require appropriate legal remedies to clear any defects
Advise you on what the title policy does not protect against, emphasizing marketability of the title when you sell
Prepare or review the closing statement and other closing documents, and let you know about seller contingencies that affect your interests
Interpret and counsel you about all legal documents related to the title and transaction, including deeds, mortgages and closing statements
Advise you on how you should take the title to the home, and how this affects your overall business and personal estate
Check for unrecorded municipal liens, including sewer and special assessment liens
Prepare a bill of sale to cover any personal property such as curtains and appliances that you and the seller agree shall remain in the home
Inform you about the income, estate, and gift tax consequences to your estate
The fees (and value) of a Florida real estate attorney.
You can hire either a non-lawyer title agency or a Florida real estate lawyer to handle your title insurance. You might think the attorney would cost more, but actually they both cost about the same. The benefit to letting your real estate lawyer handle the title insurance is that he or she can also:
Prepare the purchase contract
Resolve any title or inspection issues
Give you legal advice throughout the transaction
A title agency that isn't affiliated with a real estate lawyer cannot do any of those things.
Whether or not separate attorney fees will be charged depends on the way the transaction is structured. Typically, if your attorney acts as the closing agent and provides your title insurance, there will be no other fees involved. For more complex circumstances, fees could range from $350 to $600 for an average-priced home. If you hire a Florida real estate lawyer to review the title commitment and other documents prepared by someone else, a moderate and reasonable fee will be charged, with the actual cost varying across the state.
To find a Central Florida area real estate attorney near you, click here.