General Question

tensider's avatar

Is it standard practice to have a real estate attorney review the initial offer before submitting?

Asked by tensider (12points) March 15th, 2008

There is a home on which I’d like to make an offer. I have access to a real estate attorney. Should she look over the initial offer? My real estate agent says that the offer form is standard and doesn’t need a lawyer.

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4 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Buyer beware. I believe that the agent traditionally works for the seller; at least that is the usual scenario. I think also that a short consult. with attorney will keep you from making any mistakes. Buying a house is a HUGE undertaking, both financial and emotional. Good luck.

DeezerQueue's avatar

It can never hurt, if you have the resource, use it. Like gailcalled said, caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

srmorgan's avatar

YES. In all likelihood a house is the most expensive thing you will ever buy and you need to protect your interests.

Purchase of real estate differs from one state to another and you did not list your state of residence in your profile. New York is very complicated and you do not sign anything that was not reviewed by your attorney. , North Carolina was a lot simpler. In California a lot of it is handled by the real estate agent because of how they close escrow.

The thing to remember is not that real estate agent is working for the seller, although that is how things are structured and the agent has no obligation to you, the buyer. What you need to keep in mind is that the agent is working for herself and she doesn’t see a penny unless the deal closes. So even though the agent has a legal responsibility to the seller to try and get the best possible selling price for the seller, in practical terms unless you sign the offer sheet, she doesn’t get paid.

The form may be “standard” but it may not include terms or conditions that YOU need to have in the deal. For example in some states the offer sheet may not include your right to have the property inspected by an inspector so that you can back out of the deal if a major problem is discovered in the inspection. Or you might want to have certain repairs paid by the seller if discovered in the inspection. Or maybe you need 90 days to close instead of a standard 30 days.

Or you might want the right to back out of a deal if you can not get mortgage financing under acceptable terms. Say you can’t pay more than $xxx on a mortgage payment and you apply for a loan and because of the current liquidity squeeze you have to pay 3/4 of a point more on a mortgage than you anticipated.
A good attorney will discuss options with you that could be included in the contract.
The agent and the lawyer deal with this every day, you buy a house every 5 or 10 years. A good attorney will protect your interests and even though it is fashionable to dump on lawyers lately, this is one time when you need find a good one.

cwilbur's avatar

You should consult an attorney, or at least a real estate agent working for you, before you make any offer. Otherwise, you might find yourself committed to something you don’t want.

For instance, most real estate offers are made contingent on a satisfactory price appraisal and a satisfactory physical inspection by an engineer. If you don’t include that, you might find yourself buying something that isn’t worth the money you offered for it—a house may look beautiful but have flaws that are not immediately apparent.

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