What does a buyer’s attorney do in the Berkshires?
Simply put, the primary goal of your real estate attorney is to serve as your advocate, make sure that everything goes smoothly from offer to closing, and to make sure that you can use the property in the way that you intend. Your Berkshire real estate attorney will provide many services that are not routinely provided by attorneys in New York or other states because real estate agents and title companies cannot provide legal services in Massachusetts.
The primary tasks of a real estate attorney in the buying process is as follows:
- Advise you about legal implications of the Purchase and Sale Agreement, and advocate for you when negotiating the deal and conditions of sale.
- Negotiate legal terms relating to credits or repairs to the property if defects to the property become apparent during the inspection period.
- Review certificates needed and, if retained to do so, resolve issues required for occupancy, such as those related to Title V (septic), wells, radon, mold, asbestos, smoke detectors and lead paint.
- Work with your lender for any mortgage. Your attorney may also represent the lender.
- Ensure that there aren’t restrictions attached to your property’s deed that will prevent you from using the property in the way you intend
- Ensure that you will receive clear title to the property you want to purchase without pre-existing liens or judgments.
- Determine that the necessary documents are properly recorded with the Registry of Deeds and disburse all monies.
- Inform you of issues that may concern you. For example, an experienced attorney will let you know if your property is subject to an easement that allows others to pass through your property.
- Provide advice as to ways you might be able to withdraw from the contract without losing your deposit.
A routine closing can become non-routine very quickly. It can happen suddenly and after much of the work was completed. When it becomes non-routine, you will want an attorney who will make decisions and recommendations that involve legal judgment and experience. Some law firms rely heavily on paralegals to do most of the work to prepare for a closing. This is risky because a paralegal might not recognize a non-routine closing issue before it is too late. In that case, the entire transaction could be at risk.
You want to work with an attorney who is involved in every step to make sure that legal decisions are properly made and that problems are resolved before the closing. Otherwise, you might not learn until the closing itself that you will not be able to take possession of your property or use it in the way you expected.
The other reason is that an experienced real estate attorney may be able to find additional opportunities or options that might benefit you later. Without the benefit of an attorney, you might never know that you had an option that could have protected you or saved many times the cost of hiring the attorney.
In Massachusetts, deed restrictions do not need to be separately disclosed by the seller. You need your attorney to research them. Some properties contain easement rights that could limit how you can enjoy your land. These are restrictions that you need to know about before you commit to buying the property.
If you have a particular use in mind for the property, you should specifically engage an attorney to review that particular use and advise you as to its feasibility. This is not part of the standard work of a real estate attorney, so you need to explicitly include it in the engagement of your attorney. Do not assume that just because a previous owner or neighbor used the property in a certain way that you will be allowed to do so. For example, you should disclose if you plan to build a house extension or rent a property as an Airbnb.
A real estate attorney can help you to be sure that you can use the property the way you intend.
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