The most critical role a lawyer has in a real estate transaction is guiding clients through the negotiation of real estate contracts, as well as the various contingencies and obligations each side has before the transaction can be completed. Many of the actual functions of a real estate closing are now handled by title companies, but lawyers still have a role in guiding clients through negotiating real estate contracts and the various contingencies and obligations each side has before the transaction can take place.
For example, an initial real estate contract is signed in New Jersey but does not become finalized for three business days after it is signed (weekends and legal holidays do not count). During that time, buyers and sellers can engage an attorney to disapprove of the contract and suggest changes. Until the parties agree on modifications to the contract, they are said to be “in attorney review” without a finalized contract. (This is the one and only time an attorney will tell you to sign first and come to them later.)
There are contingencies written into contracts that bear watching. Buyers have an obligation to secure financing in a certain amount of time, and the property must appraise for an acceptable value. Sellers must have clear title to the home they are selling. Both sides need to agree on inspections for the home, as well as other inspections that might occur such as for radon, wood-destroying insects, and structural issues. The parties need to negotiate any repairs that need to be made to the property. Attorneys can be helpful at every stage of this process, as well as at closing when both sides have a pile of complex legal documents to navigate.
Our team routinely works with title companies, lenders, other real estate attorneys, realtors, and every other type of professional involved in the purchase and sale of real estate. Whether you are looking for resources, or you have a contract ready to sign, feel free to call the office and let one of our attorneys assist you with one of the largest transactions most people deal with in their lives.