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Do You Really Need an Attorney When Buying or Selling a Home?

Prepared By: Melissa C. Marsh, Los Angeles Real Estate Attorney
Written: March 2009

Yes you should consult with an attorney when buying or selling a home, even though most people opt not to see an attorney, especially in California. First, the sale or purchase of a home is probably the largest transaction in which you will ever be involved and you should protect your interests. The real estate agent is primarily concerned with closing a deal. If the deal doesn't close, the real estate agent doesn't get paid. His or her primary goal therefore is to close the deal, not to make sure you are adequately protected.

So What About Those Standard Forms?
Although standard fill-in-the-blank purchase and sale agreements are routinely used, there are many pre-printed purchase agreements in the real estate industry. In addition, although frequently referred to as "standard," their terms can vary widely. It is important to remember that when using any pre-printed form, the pre-printed language is for convenience only and each and every term in the document is negotiable. As with any contract, you should carefully review the terms and make sure you understand the legal effect of each term before you sign the agreement. A lawyer can help you with all of this and should be consulted before you sign any form purchase and sale agreement.

What About The Legal Fees - Won't That Be Expensive?
Although a real estate agent can fill-in a "standard" purchase agreement for you, they cannot advise you on the legal significance of the terms of your agreement. Only a licensed attorney is allowed to provide legal advice. A lawyer's fees will generally be based on the complexity of the transaction, not the purchase price of the home. As a home purchase is a relatively simple transaction, the legal fees should not be out of reach. Some lawyers are paid by the hour, while others will offer a flat fee for the job. Hiring and paying a lawyer to represent you in buying or selling a house (in which you may have a substantial amount of your net worth at risk) is advisable to ensure that your interests are completely protected.

© 2009 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved.

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site was prepared by Melissa C. Marsh for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided in my articles and alerts should not be relied upon, or used as a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney you retain to advise or represent you. Your use of this Internet site does not create an attorney- client relationship. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. You may print or email a copy of any information posted on this web site for your own personal, non-commercial, use, but you may not publish any of the articles or posts on this web site without the Express Written Permission of Melissa C. Marsh.

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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.