The Practical Real Estate Lawyer
Q: I am in the process of purchasing a house and someone told me that I should have a lawyer to do the escrow and other house purchsing arrangements. But I don;t understand what a lawyer will do for us, that we cannot do ourselves. Do I need to hire a lawyer by law? Is there a real advantage to hire a lawyer? Can I minimize of expense by doing things myself and not going through a lawyer?
A: The use of lawyers for real estate transactions is common in some parts of the US, but uncommon in others. In California, it is not very common. Obviously, the reason for using a lawyer is to protect your money and liability during the largest transaction you've probably ever made. You will need to sign several contracts during the process and a lawyer will be able to help you understand all the details (and identify any problem areas). The cost of a few hours of a lawyer's time is probably very small compared to the amount of money you're spending. On the other hand, real estate contracts in California tend to be pretty standard, so must people just trust their escrow officers and real estate agents.
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