Using a Real Estate Attorney When Buying a House by Hammerle Finley Law Firm

While Texas is among the states that do not require you hire an attorney when buying your house, there are times where an attorney can provide significant value.  A real estate attorney can add value if you are buying a home without a real estate agent, or in the event your transaction involves one of the many complex situations that can arise when buying a house.  Real estate agents are adept at the standard sales transactions, but they rely on form purchase agreements that may not adequately address the legal issues involved in your transaction. Moreover, your attorney represents your interests. A real estate attorney will help make sure that transaction is in your best interests.

Assisting in the Negotiation Process

Buying your house is a lot of work and often involves several people to make it happen.  The most recognizable player in the purchase of a home is the real estate agent.  The agent will bring value by knowing the prices for the local real estate market, searching for listings, and communicating your offer.  A real estate attorney, on the other than, can ensure your relationship with the real estate agent is fair and mutually beneficial.  Buyer representation agreements often have one-sided provisions that favor the real estate agent.  Your attorney can help you avoid such one-sided agreements.  Additionally, your attorney will help you negotiate the purchase, analyze and explain the contract, and handle the closing.  Moreover, an experienced real estate attorney can spot legal pitfalls and help you avoid them.

Drafting and Reviewing Legal Documents

Each house is unique and therefore each purchase of a house presents a unique situation.  Often, these situations require contact language that is not included within the standard real estate form agreement.  Some of these situations include:

  • A problem develops between the buyer and seller, for instance the seller wants to back out after accepting an offer.
  • Allocating repair costs that may arise from the your inspection of the home.
  • A short sale situation with the seller’s lender.
  • Buying a house out of a relative’s estate.
  • Buying a larger piece of property with part being used in agricultural.
  • Buying a house with a tenant under a lease.
  • Buying a house with an issue, such as major foundation problems.

The purchase agreement is the single most important document in the transaction.  Although a standard preprinted form is useful, a real estate lawyer can make the changes needed to address your unique situation.  Even in a “standard” deal, there are many issues that may need to be addressed in the purchase agreement, including:

  • Changes to the home itself, were additions done to code and approved by the HOA?
  • What happens if your inspection reveals the presence of termites, asbestos, radon, or lead-based paint?
  • What are the legal outcomes if the deal fails to close?
  • Will the down payment be held in escrow by a lawyer?

Most purchases of single-family homes are financed through third party banks or other lending institutions.  The purchase agreement should address what happens if the your lender falls through for some reason or another.

Texas law mandates specific disclosures be made by sellers “on or before the effective date” of a property purchase agreement.  A real estate attorney can help you obtain the proper disclosures and insure you receive the disclosure form within the required period.  If the seller fails to deliver the required disclosures before you enter into the purchase agreement you may be able to out of the deal.  Your attorney will help navigate this problem.

Reviewing Home Inspections

Real property is sold “as is” and as such, buyer beware.  Due to this, most buyers obtain a home inspection prior to committing to purchase the property.  Inevitable, the inspection identifies issues with the property.  A real estate attorney can help you navigate those results and address the larger issues within the purchase agreement.  This layer of security will help you obtain the home you desire, in the best possible condition.

What if the inspector performs a negligent inspection or misrepresents the condition of the home that leads to expensive problems for the buyer?  The inspector may be liable under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and a real estate attorney can help you navigate the process of recovering your damages.

Protection in the Event That You Have to Walk Away from a Property

Sometimes the deal just falls apart and you need to walk away.  Your lender falls through, or the inspection reveals significant issues or unpermitted work.  There are many reasons you may want to walk away.  Your real estate attorney will make sure many of these contingencies are covered within the purchase contract, so you have the right to walk away.

What if it is a novel situation, such as the COVID-19 pandemic?  Every so often, life sends a curveball.  When this happens your real estate attorney will help you navigate your exit in the most ethical manner while minimizing any costs you may incur due to walking away.

Hammerle Finley Can Help Home Buyers in Texas

The real estate attorneys at Hammerle Finley are experienced in all these matters and stand ready to assist you. We are experienced at representing buyers of residential real estate properties. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.