There is no federal requirement in the US about whether or not you need a real estate lawyer to facilitate your house sale, but a handful of states do require you to have a real estate attorney. If you’re in the process of selling a home in Massachusetts, you may wonder if you need a real estate attorney, and if so, what they’ll do for you. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What is a real estate lawyer?
A real estate lawyer is an attorney who helps home buyers and sellers legally navigate home sales to ensure those transactions not only meet legal requirements but will protect both parties after the sale. Note that lawyers need to have a real estate law license to practice – you can’t use any lawyer.
Do I need a real estate lawyer to sell my house in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, there is a law (Chapter 221, Section 46a) that prohibits anyone other than an attorney from practicing law in the state. While you can create contracts without a lawyer (which is essentially what they do for you during a house sale), you are required to have a lawyer present at the time of closing.
While a real estate attorney is an extra cost you’ll need to consider, you’ll be able to rest assured knowing you’re not going to have any legal issues later.
What does a real estate lawyer do in a house sale?
Real estate lawyers specialize in contracts, so they are only necessary once you’ve found an interested buyer. They won’t help you negotiate with your buyer, but they will:
- Advise you on how to navigate more complicated transactions, such as selling a home during probate or if you’re getting a divorce from the other person on the house’s deed
- Draft your Purchase and Sale Agreement, which is the initial contract you and your buyer sign which commits you both to the sale
- Draft the deed for you
- Put together any other legal documentation you may need for selling your home, and advise you on this
- They’ll address any liens and title issues
- Review your settlement statement
- Collect your sale proceeds on your behalf in the way that works best for you
- Ensure closing goes smoothly as your legal representation and can sign on your behalf
They’re also particularly beneficial if you’re selling a home with an unusual feature, is of non-standard construction, or if you’re selling in a short sale.
How much does a real estate lawyer cost in Massachusetts?
The cost of a real estate lawyer in Massachusetts will vary depending on the complexity of the sale. The average hourly rate of a real estate lawyer is $279, so make sure you understand whether you’re being charged hourly (and if so, what you can expect the total bill to be), a flat fee, or a flat fee plus additional fees if things are more complicated than expected. Generally, you can expect to pay $800 – $1,500.
Do you need to pay for a real estate lawyer if you’re selling in a private sale?
Yes, it’s important to have a real estate lawyer in a private sale because you don’t have another expert, such as a realtor, to advise you on the best way to move forward with the sale, and you need an attorney to prepare your documentation.
A private sale will, however, allow you to avoid other fees, such as a real estate agent’s commission. To find out more about the benefits of a private sale, click here.
What should I look for in a good real estate lawyer?
Here are some tips to help you find a good real estate lawyer:
- Choose someone familiar with your local area
- Is experienced and/or has great reviews
- Has worked on similar cases in the past – this is particularly important if your sale is more complicated in some way, such as you’re selling it while probate is still ongoing
- Is open and honest with their fees
- Charges an amount you’re comfortable with
- Is upfront about if someone below them will be working on your documents
- Has a communication style that works well for you
How do I find a real estate attorney?
Here are a few good ways to find a reputable real estate attorney:
- Google – most real estate attorneys will have reviews on Google, so make sure you read through them to get an idea of whether they’d be a good fit for you or not
- Check local review sites – there are local and legal directories that will list attorneys near you (many will have reviews, too)
- Ask an attorney you know for recommendations – if you know an attorney who practices in another area of law, ask them if they can recommend a good real estate attorney
- Ask local friends and family – If you know someone locally who has sold or bought a home in the area in recent years, ask them if they liked working with their real estate attorney and if they would recommend them
Avoid Additional Fees by Selling Your House Privately
While you can’t avoid the costs of a real estate lawyer when selling your Massachusetts home, you can avoid other fees by selling privately to a home-buying company like us. In some sales, the seller is responsible for paying the majority of the closing costs, but we’ll help you to avoid all realtor fees and non-essential additional costs.
We buy homes in Massachusetts for cash; all you need to do is contact us with a few details about the property and we’ll send you our fair and best cash offer. You’re under no obligation to accept, but if you do, we’ll put everything in motion. When you sell with us there are no realtor fees to pay, no repairs to do, and we don’t even require you to clean out the home if you don’t want to.
We operate with a full-transparency policy, so if you want to learn more about how the process works (or if you’re ready to get your cash offer), click here.