Q: I am looking at really inexpensive properties for sale (under $50,000) that will need a 203k loan. I believe I will need to get a buyer’s agent. Do I also need a real estate attorney on “my team”?
A:I would generally recommend that you have a real estate attorney assist you in purchasing real estate. In some parts of the country the tradition is not to use real estate attorneys, but you may find the advice and information given to you by the attorney to be invaluable.
There are real estate attorneys that may work with you on an hourly basis or on a fixed fee basis on your transaction. Depending on your knowledge level and sophistication, you might need an attorney to consult with from time to time on specific issues, otherwise, you might need an attorney to work with you from the start of the transaction to the end.
You may also find that you can use the services of a real estate attorney for the first several deals you close and as you gain experience have an attorney that can assist you on those specific issues that need attention.
In any case, you should have an attorney on your “team” to help you when the time comes. The last thing you want is to have a real problem and then have to find an attorney you trust and like to work with.
As an aside, you might need other team players as well: Recently I was watching a reality TV show where a person had purchased a very inexpensive home in the hope of doing some cosmetic repairs to the home and then selling the home. The buyers had not done their homework and they ended up having to gut the entire home and spend twice to three times what they budgeted. A good home inspector would have really helped out these investors.
If you buy a home that has certain deed restrictions that would prevent you from making money on the property, wouldn’t you want to know that before you close? Will you know what you are looking at when you are handed over legal documents relating to the title to the home? Will you even know what questions to ask?
In some circumstances, having an attorney who can give you advice on certain issues, in the peculiar issues that arise during the home buying process, may give you an edge up and save you some money over the long run.