Real Estate practices and procedures are all local. For example, here in New Jersey, things are done differently depending on whether you are located in North Jersey or South Jersey.
In North Jersey, people usually use a real estate lawyer to assist them with their real estate transaction. For as little as $700.00 or so, a lawyer can help you with the sale of your home. Prices do vary and it costs a little more if you are buying a home.
Many homes all over New Jersey cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so the price of hiring a lawyer is a very insignificant cost compared with the value of what you are buying or selling.
When lawyers are not involved, title companies do most of the work that lawyers would otherwise do. Most of the time - in fact, the great majority of instances - that system seems to work very well. Most transactions seem to close without a hitch and everyone gets to save a few hundred dollars in lawyer fees.
But when things go badly and a lawyer is not representing either of the parties, they seem to go real badly. Maybe it's a complex environmental issue. Maybe it's an escrow issue for some work that will have to be done in the near future. Maybe there is a question of reliance by the buyer on a verbal representation by the seller. Whatever it is, complicated issues require resolution by an attorney and when this is not done, problems may arise.
Sometimes a lawyer can even spot a problem before it goes too far and prevent a nightmare from happening. And in my view, that protection is worth the less than one thousand dollars that people usually spend here in New Jersey for these legal services.
Other States work the same way: some areas use lawyers and some do not. If you want my opinion spend the few bucks on a lawyer.
I have seen first hand what can happen when things go badly. Then, it usually costs much more to fix the problem that it would have cost to hire a lawyer in the first place.
Here is the "bottom line" from my standpoint: houses cost a lot of money. And the little amount of money that a lawyer will charge for a closing is well worth the value of ensuring that the job is done right.
A legal problem regarding a costly home will likely become a costly legal problem.
That is not to suggest that real estate lawyers are perfect. Obviously, no professional is immune from making a mistake.
But I think that you have a much smaller chance of experiencing a legal problem with a lawyer at a closing than without one.
Who should you use? I still believe in recommendations.
In conclusion, if you are buying or selling a house, congratulations! And spring for a lawyer. While you may not legally have to have one, I think that common sense suggests that you do retain the services of a real estate lawyer when you are buying or selling a home.
East Bridgewater, MA 02333
Lew Corcoran, ASP®, IAHSP, IAHSP-CB