Q. Do I need a real estate attorney?

A. Using an attorney to close residential real estate transactions differs from state to state. No state will require you to have a real estate attorney.

In fact, in states like California and Indiana, attorneys are used only in difficult or complicated transactions, or where the buyer or seller specifically wants someone to read and explain the legal documents begging signed.

In states where the use of real estate attorneys is uncommon, brokers and closing officers advise buyers and sellers about the transaction. In many other states, however, real estate attorneys are commonly hired to assist in the purchase and sale of residential real estate.

You should hire an attorney if you are unfamiliar with the documents you are signing and if attorneys are generally used in the sales of home in your area, or if you do not have confidence in your broker. If your deal is complicated or you have a skittish, nitpicking buyer who wants to make lots of “little” changes to the contract, you may want to have an attorney review what’s being done and how it affects your rights.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions about Selling Real Estate.

Aug. 30, 2005.