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Legal Help and Resources

This section provides information about the legal issues surrounding real estate, from simple lease agreements to equity loans and foreclosures. All of these issues can be very complicated. Educating yourself about your options and legal rights as early as possible can help you avoid some problems before they arise, and minimize the consequences of these issues. In addition to becoming informed on your own, seeking advice from experts can help you save money and frustration in the long run. Use the links below to find state specific resources and to learn about how a qualified real estate attorney can sometimes help.

How a Lawyer Can Help You When Buying or Selling a Home

It isn't always necessary to hire an attorney when selling or buying a home, but they are really important at times. Real estate transactions involve numerous legal matters, including contracts and a multitude of regulations. Since one's home is typically the biggest purchase an individual will ever make, it's very important to get legal help when necessary.

Sometimes, for example, real estate agents will use stock forms downloaded from the Internet that may not address certain legal matters. The consequences of not fully understanding certain contractual language (or failing to address certain aspects of the transaction) can lead to potentially expensive surprises.

The main document in a real estate transaction is the purchase agreement, which contains all of the terms and costs associated with the sale. Even if you don't work with a lawyer in the early stages, you may want to have an attorney review the purchase agreement.

How a Lawyer an Help You When Renting Property

As with purchasing or selling a home, renting a property also centers around the terms of a written contract. While landlords are prohibited by law to discriminate against prospective tenants and certain lease terms are illegal, it is generally up to the tenant to review and understand the agreement. While an attorney can provide valuable feedback about the terms of a lease, tenants typically do not hire lawyers when renting a property.

However, you may need to work with an attorney if you have an irreconcilable dispute with your landlord. This may include a disagreement over how much deposit is owed at the end of the lease; the meaning of certain contractual terms; or even an eviction. A real estate lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law can review your lease agreement, assess the conflict, and suggest the proper course of action.

Working with an Attorney: Legal Fees and Agreements

Most initial consultations with attorneys are free. But eventually you will have to sign off on a fee arrangement. Lawyers may charge a fixed hourly fee, a contingency fee (based on collected damages), or even a flat fee. Different fee structures make sense for different situations. For instance, you may just want to pay the hourly fee if all you need is an hour or two of the lawyer's time. If it's a relatively simple and predicable process, you may consider entering into a flat fee arrangement.

Click on a link below to learn more about working with a real estate attorney.