Do I Need an Attorney to Buy a Home in Florida?

The decision to sell or purchase a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most people will ever make so it is wise to consult with an attorney. In Winter Park Florida, the median home price is near $320,000 with homes in the upper value range exceeding a million dollars. It is wise to protect such a large financial investment from the beginning of the real estate transaction. You may want to save closing fee costs and will think to yourself: Do I need an attorney to buy a home in Florida? The answer is can you afford not to?

Do I Need an Attorney to Buy a Home in Florida?

When you consider purchase prices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, consulting an experienced attorney before, during and even after the sale is prudent advice. Problems can occur at any step in the transaction, so having an experienced real estate attorney can save you money in the end. 

Eric Lanigan of Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L., provides consultations to buyers and sellers as well as the many professionals involved in each step of the real estate transaction. It is better to consult with an attorney early in the process rather than risk litigation after the fact. 

Hire an Attorney Before the Sale

The document to list your home for sale is a legal document. This document spells out the details surrounding the sale of your home. The contract details the pricing, commission rates, exclusions of personal property and possible penalties should the seller cancel the contract.

The Disclosure Form

The seller prepares the disclosure document as a tool to convey information about the condition of the property. The seller should document known defects or concerns so the buyer has an accurate understanding of the condition of not only the structure, but also the accompanying land. The disclosure is critical to both the seller and the buyer. Sellers may try to hide defects or there may actually be defects within the home unknown to the seller.

The Inspection

Consumers hire home inspectors to perform a physical inspection of the property. The inspector will document the condition and communicate any defects discovered during the inspection. The buyer or the seller can hire the inspector. In some cases, the realtor may recommend an inspector to their client. This can be an important differentiation. The inspector’s contract language will state any limits of liability for defects not found during the inspection.

Florida Environment Poses Risks to Property

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th. For six months out of the year, homeowners live with the threat of hurricanes and the increased possibility of damage to homes. Roof leaks, water damage, and termite damage to the home are real possibilities. Florida is also prone to sinkholes that threaten the homeowner’s ability to successfully occupy the home.

The Appraisal

An objective third party should conduct the property appraisal on the property in question. Factors such as location, age and condition, upgrades, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms combined with comparable homes are all considerations in the final value assigned to the property. An appraisal can affect whether or not a buyer is able to get the requested loan amount approved by the lender.

The Contract and Closing

The actual transfer of the property takes place at closing. The contract and the closing documents are all legal documents that a real estate attorney should review before signing. Many homeowners are not knowledgeable about escrow accounts, title searches, and deed transfers let alone the problems that can be uncovered before closing. Having an attorney review your closing documents can uncover mistakes or problems that could delay or prevent closing.

After The Sale

Unfortunately, fraud can occur in real estate transactions. The new owner receives the deed to the property at closing barring any problems. Discovery of latent defects in the home or accusations of fraud may end up with either party suing the other in an effort to recover damages as a result of the fraudulent activity. Of course, sometimes defects are discovered that were truly unknown to the seller in which case there may be no evidence of fraud.

When considering entering into a real estate transaction of any type, the best course of action is to schedule a legal consultation with an attorney. Real estate transactions are complex and every situation is different. To protect yourself and your financial investment, schedule a consultation with a qualified real estate attorney for guidance on the sale or purchase of your Florida home.