For anyone out there with an interest in real estate like me, I don’t mind sharing some things that I have learned about real estate agents and real estate litigation. I have some experience as a home buyer and I held a real estate license for eight years. I have worked with investors (and soon I hope to be one, too).
Some people wonder whether they should use an agent or hire a real estate attorney. I believe it is usually not necessary to engage an attorney for real estate purchases. Generally, real estate transactions are spelled out in a form style contract and countersigned, so not much can go wrong here, at least legally. (Plenty of things can go wrong in a transaction though, believe me!) If something goes awry, and changes have to be made, amendments to the contracts can be made. Just be sure they are signed by both parties. You can always hire an attorney however, if you like. It costs more, but you can’t beat a real estate professional if you really want to cover all of your bases. You will want to be aware that even if a contract is signed and the transaction is completed, an attorney can appeal the contract in court to determine whether it is valid.
I like to save money, so if I am confident of the transaction I might rely on a real estate agent’s expertise. Agents are very knowledgeable, and that includes real estate law as well as the other details of real estate sales transactions.
A lot of training goes into the application for licensing. To obtain my license in California a few years ago I studied a great deal. Agents are knowledgeable on a variety of topics including real estate law, mortgage finance, escrow, title insurance, and more. Real estate agents are pretty savvy.
However, the larger the transaction and the more moving parts there are, the more I would tend to rely on a real estate attorney to complete the details of the transaction.
Sometimes a buyer or seller will want to back out of the deal because they think they can do better. If so, your only option may be to litigate. If your property is not suitable for use due to misrepresentation, for instance, you can litigate. A real estate litigation attorney is pretty much necessary if the other party wants to default on the contract and you must resort to using force of law to get them to perform. A relationship with a real estate litigation attorney can really come in handy if it comes to that.
Or, let’s say you sign a listing with a real estate agent who tells you that your property is worth a certain amount. Unbeknownst to you, the agent, via their spouse, makes an offer on the house, which they know is really worth much more. You sign the document, but later your family members advise you of the mistake. This really happened a few years ago in a highly publicized account in Oregon.
The seller litigated against the agent and she not only lost the case but she lost her real estate license as well. Generally, real estate agents just want to help their clients get a good price for their property and collect a commission, but in this case a dishonest agent was held accountable by a real estate attorney (and the media).
If it is a large transaction with multiple parties involved, such as a commercial development, a real estate attorney as well as an agent is often useful. The agent can handle the transaction or multiple transactions while the attorney is available to research legal questions that may come up.
In Houston, so many people needed real estate legal assistance due to the flooding that occurred, that the city attorney organization set up extra hours for free consultations. In situations such as this, a real estate litigation attorney can be very useful.
In India, they are feeling their own real estate pain, as the debate continues on taxation of real estate, among other items, through their GST. These sorts of things are often tested in the courts as well as the political sphere.
(Often, litigation and politics seem to more or less become the same thing, as in the current accusations against Kushner Companies of New York. It is making headlines, probably because of its ties to Jared Kushner.)