I already have a real estate agent helping me, so why do I need an attorney too when buying or selling my house? This is a question I get asked all the time as a real estate attorney. Thanks to the media, society, and some phenomenal marketing from national organizations the general public is under the impression that a real estate agent can handle every aspect of a real estate transaction without assistance. Candidly, in some situations this is true. However, there are some instances where having an attorney is beneficial to all parties involved (including the real estate agents).
Real estate agents are not a substitute for legal counsel and representation.
Although real estate agents have a license to assist and represent buyers and sellers in real estate transactions, they are not a substitute for legal counsel and representation. Missouri law (by statute and regulation) specifically limits the scope of what a real estate agent can do in a real estate transaction. Missouri law also limits a real estate agent’s exposure to liability for certain aspects of a real estate transaction (meaning a real estate agent may be protected from legal action, but you may not be). I am not here to say that you should replace your real estate agent with an attorney; rather, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to help assist you (and your agent) with some facets of a real estate transaction. For clarification on this point, read through the following (non-exhaustive) lists.
Things real estate agents are licensed to do:
- Represent a buyer/seller’s interests during real estate transaction negotiations
- Use and complete the blanks in standard forms (that are approved by legal counsel)
- Show properties to potential buyers/tenants
- List and advertise properties “For Sale/Lease”
- Prepare a Comparative Market Analysis or Broker Price Opinion
Things real estate agents are not licensed to do (but attorneys are):
- Draft legal language/special agreements
- Interpret the legal significance of language in a standard form
- Create standard/custom forms
- Charge for the use of standard forms
- Represent buyers/sellers in legal proceedings that may occur after the closing of a real estate transaction
As you can see from the first list, real estate professionals can handle a wide variety of tasks relating to real estate transactions. However, upon reading the second list you may notice some areas where hiring an attorney may be beneficial to both you and your agent. Remember, buying a house is the biggest purchase most people make; it only benefits you to have all the help you can get during this monumental life change.
At RS Campbell Law, LLC we are here to assist you (and your real estate agent) with all facets of a real estate transaction. Contact us today to set up your consultation.