Rule 6 of the Virginia State Bar of Professional Guidelines governs the real estate practice and allows nonlawyers to perform real estate services. However, they are prohibited from and unqualified to give legal advice. Buying or selling a home is a legal transaction and it’s important have a qualified real estate attorney who can provide legal advice in your favor.
3 Reasons to Have a Real Estate Attorney Represent You When Buying or Selling a Home
1. The Potential Liability and Large Transaction Amount. For most of us, our home will be the largest investment we make. Why not make sure we do it right? Depending on how you go about buying a house – it could either be your biggest asset or your biggest liability. An attorney will review your contract, address any liens through a title search, and ultimately review and translate the pile of documents you’ll be signing at the closing. Not only will you be paying an attorney a fraction of what you would be paying a real estate agent, you will be avoiding many legal and liability issues that could arise.
2. An Attorney Represents YOUR Best Interests and is Not Just an Impartial Party. When you hire an attorney, they represent you and your best interests. Any real estate agent or broker will act upon their own or their company’s interests. By hiring your own real estate attorney, pursuant to the Virginia State Bar ethics rules, they must provide zealous representation to their clients and you can be assured that someone is looking at what is best for you. Furthermore, should a lawyer be necessary for any reason, they can represent you if the need for legal action arises, whereas a real estate agent alone cannot.
3. Filing Deeds and Title Issues. While the Virginia legislature has allowed non-lawyers to perform closings, it did not give them the power to practice law. A non-lawyer settlement agent cannot (but a lawyer can): draft deeds and other legal instruments, explain the rights and obligations of the buyer and/or seller pursuant to the purchase contract, the meaning of loan documents signed at closing, or the impact of title defects or title insurance policy “exceptions,” or offer answers to or opinions on certain questions that may arise. Only a licensed attorney can perform these actions and offer legal opinions in response to the following types of questions: “What should we do?” “What rights and obligations do we, the buyer (or seller), have?” “What is a Deed of Trust and what does it mean to us?”
Hiring an Attorney Conveys Confidence and Gives You Assurance
By hiring a Virginia real estate attorney to represent you throughout your purchase of a home or selling of a home, you can avoid a lot of the stress. An experienced real estate attorney that handles these transactions on a daily basis, can help you navigate through the complicated closing process. An attorney, unlike a non-lawyer settlement agent, can provide you with legal advice and hopefully minimize or avoid the many potential legal landmines that lurk beneath the surface of any closing. There is no feeling worse than closing on a home only to discover that the garage violates a county set-back requirement and must be moved or torn down and the basic title insurance policy you purchased doesn’t cover such a problem (true story).
Understanding your legal rights when buying or selling your home requires the experience of a seasoned, Virginia real estate attorney. Contact Keithley Law, PLLC, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office with an experienced, Virginia real estate attorney.