Real Estate Closing - Lawyer Needed In Texas?
Q: Get an attorney or a Real Estate Agent who's mal-practice insurance is on the line. Unless your son is extreemely knowledgable in law and real estate, he is not equipped to protect himself.
A: Unless I misread things, your son is not an attorney, and is likely to cause as much trouble as he solves. Sorry. Let me note (I am not licensed in either real estate or law in Texas) that in most cases you really can't have a real estate agent "represent" you at the closing in the same way that an attorney does. Rather, in many states the real estate agent that sold you the house is representing your real estate (and not legal) interests. In many states (in particular Colo., where I am licensed both as an attorney and as a real estate broker), real estate contracts have been standardized to a very great extent by the government, and all that is really at issue is how blanks are filled out in standard ways in these standard forms. Thus, in such a state, in many simple closings, the real estate or title people fill out the blanks and that is it. Before I was licensed to practice law (but could real estate), I was somewhat opposed to having attorneys show up at closings. Often they seemed more trouble than they were worth, finding fault with standard clauses and such. But now that I have looked at things from an attorneys point of view, I must suggest that too much is at stake in many cases to trust narrowly trained real estate personal with so much of your life's savings. After all, for most people, their house is their biggest asset. Besides, there are a myriad of reasons why real estate agents need to be watched (if I may be cynical). First and foremost, in many states "your" agent owes his primary duty to the seller, since the seller is paying the fees. (I believe Texas is more liberated than that - but with a Texas attorney on this). In any case, if the deal falls through, he doesn't get paid. One of the things that you presumably must learn before you get licensed in most states as an attorney is how the real estate laws operate. Texas has some real weird laws, especially as to the homestead exemption and mortgages (remember, I'm not a Texas attorney). So, you can have a certain level of confidence if you go to an attorney licensed here. But the complaints made by real estate people about many attorneys during closings are true. Many attorneys are more trouble than they are worth - because although they may know the substantive law about real property transfers and hypothecations, they don't know the operational ins and out. Thus, there may be standard forms, with standard ways of doing things. A good real estate attorney will be able to quickly review your documents and spot anything that is amiss. For example, what expenses should you be charged at closing for? Which ones are standard? Which ones were overridden by contract? Thus, my final advice is to go to a Texas attorney who is experienced in residential real estate practice and at least have him review your contract and closing documents.
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