If you’re getting ready to buy a house, you’re probably planning to hire a real estate agent to help you through the process.

But what about a real estate attorney? Do you really need one, or can you handle the sale on your own? We’ve put together this guide to show you what a real estate attorney does and whether or not you need to hire one when buying a home.

So let’s get started!

Is a Real Estate Attorney the Same as a Real Estate Agent?

Real estate agents and real estate attorneys both play important roles when you’re buying a home, but they’re jobs are very different. Here’s a quick look at their responsibilities.

Real Estate Agents

A real estate agent helps you find a home that meets the needs of you and your family. They can give you information about the home, the neighborhood, etc., and they can negotiate the price with the seller. They’ll also help you set any terms and sign the sales contract.

Real Estate Attornies

Once you know what home you’re buying and for how much, a real estate attorney will review the contract and make sure everything is legal and correct. They may also be able to adjust the selling price or terms of the sale if the home needs repairs or if your agent has trouble negotiating with the sellers.

If something goes wrong during the selling process, your attorney will be able to solve these issues and, if necessary, represent you in court. Want to learn more about what a real estate attorney does? You can read more now.

Do You Need to Hire a Real Estate Attorney?

You’re already paying a lot of money to hire a real estate agent, so do you really need to hire a real estate attorney, too? Doesn’t the agent know enough about the sales process to ensure the contact is correct on their own?

To be honest, hiring a real estate attorney isn’t always necessary when you’re buying a home. If the sale is simple and straightforward, you and your agent may be able to handle everything on your own.

But in most cases, you’ll want to hire a real estate attorney.


First of all, buying a house comes with a lot of paperwork. If you don’t fill out this paperwork correctly, you might have to pay a fee, or you might lose the house altogether. A real estate attorney will protect you from mistakes like this because they’ll be able to manage the paperwork for you.

This means you get to relax.

Depending on where you live, you might also be required to hire a real estate agent by law. For example, you’ll have to hire an attorney if you live in any of these states:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washing D.C.
  • West Virginia

If you don’t live in one of these states, the decision of whether or not you should hire a real estate attorney is up to you. However, there are several instances where hiring one of these attornies is the better choice.

Unless the sale of your new home is simple, you should hire a real estate attorney to help you get through the closing process. This means you’ll want to make the hire if you fit into any of these circumstances:

  • You’re buying a house in a different state
  • The house is owned by the bank
  • The sale is a short-sale
  • The house is part of an estate sale
  • The home has structural issues
  • The house is located in a problematic area (such as a flood zone)

Sales that involve any of these issues will likely mean more paperwork and extra steps. A real estate attorney will be able to walk you through the process and make sure you’re doing the right things.

You’re Buying a Commercial Property

Buying a commercial property is much more complicated than buying a residential property. They are also much more expensive, meaning there is a lot more risk involved in the process. When you’re buying a commercial building, you have to think about any zoning issues, liens, easements, environmental concerns, etc.

Because of this, you’ll want to have someone on your side who can explain the situation and walk you through the steps. They’ll also be able to ensure the sale is legal and secure.

You Want an Unusual Contract

If you have to draw up an unusual contract, you’ll want a real estate attorney to do this for you. For example, do you want to rent the home for several months or a year before you buy? You’ll have to adjust the original contract to represent this change.

A real estate agent can make sure both parties agree on the new terms and draft a contract that is clear and legal.

You Want to Stay on the Safe Side of Things

Even if the sale of the home is straightforward, hiring a real estate attorney will help you stay on the safe side of things. The buying process is long and complicated, so having an attorney on your side can give you peace of mind and help you stay calm.

Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Attorney the Next Time You Buy a New Home

While you might not have to hire a real estate attorney when you’re buying a house (depending on where you live), you probably should. They will ensure all the paperwork is correct and legal, and they can represent you if something goes wrong during the process.

Are you getting ready to buy a new home and want some other helpful tips?

Make sure you take a look at the rest of our blog!

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