Residential Real Estate Lawyer In NJ
Buying or selling a home is among the largest financial transactions most people will be involved in during their lives. It is always smart to seek out knowledgeable legal advice whenever you are preparing to make a major and potentially life-altering financial decision, including when you're contemplating selling or buying a home. In addition to talking to an experienced real estate lawyer in NJ, buyers will also want to work with inspectors and appraisers to protect themselves. While you are not required to hire a New Jersey real estate Attorney to buy or sell residential property, doing so can help to protect your interests and rights and prevent potential losses that could occur if things go wrong.
What Do New Jersey Real Estate Attorneys Do?
The New Jersey real estate lawyers at the Ziegler Law Group, LLC are licensed to practice law in the state and focus on real estate transactions. Real estate lawyers understand all of the laws that apply to the home-buying process as well as other areas of the law that affect real estate transactions. Our attorneys can represent lenders, sellers, or buyers.
In some cases, a real estate lawyer will be present at closing to represent the lender's legal interests. However, if you want your interests to be protected as the buyer or seller, you will need to retain a lawyer who will represent you exclusively. Some people choose to hire real estate lawyers in NJ early during the process to handle all aspects of the process. Others wait until after the contract is already in place or until the closing of the transaction.
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Services Offered by Our Residential Real Estate Lawyers in NJ
The real estate attorneys in NJ at the Ziegler Law Group offer the following legal services:
- Contract drafting when necessary
- Contract review and the negotiation of terms
- Review of title insurance packages
- Title investigations and advice when there are title defects that require potential court application
- Coordinating the needs of the title and mortgage companies to ensure the file is cleared for closing
- Reviewing the closing package with buyers
- Representing buyers at closing
What Are the Benefits of Retaining a New Jersey Real Estate Lawyer?
Working with an experienced New Jersey real estate attorneys while buying or selling a home can offer multiple benefits. Real estate lawyers can provide you with legal advice, and real estate agents and realtors cannot. There are numerous things that licensed real estate attorneys can do that real estate agents and realtors can't legally do. Below are some of the key phases in the home-buying or selling process in which having an attorney can be important.
Drafting, Reviewing, and Negotiating Purchase Contracts
If you are buying or selling a home without involving a real estate agent, drafting the purchase contract will be something you will need to pay special attention to. Even if a realtor is involved and has presented a contract, it is critical to have the document reviewed by a lawyer. New Jersey provides a three-day review period during which you can have your lawyer review a proposed contract. If you accept the contract as presented by a realtor without paying careful attention to the terms, it can create a number of challenges. Realtor contracts are typically neutral forms that are written in such a way that they don't protect the interests of either the seller or buyer. In some cases, a realtor's contract might prioritize one party's interests over the interests of the other. If your realtor writes your contract, it might also protect your realtor more than you or the other party.
Generic form contracts that are frequently used by realtors and real estate agents do not have the customization that might be required to meet your needs and will likely not address the unique aspects of the home or your situation. Your lawyer can review the contract and make edits to it to tailor it to your specific needs. Your lawyer can also negotiate the inclusion or omission of certain terms with the other party and explain all of the details, terms, and requirements. A lawyer's role during the process will be to promptly address your concerns and protect your legal interests. They will work with you to translate your wishes into the contract in a legally valid and enforceable way.
Negotiating with Sellers Following Inspections
If you are purchasing a home, having a lawyer on your side can be helpful when an inspection reveals repairs that are needed. Typically, buyers will have 14 days to have an inspection completed on the homes for which they are under contract. If the inspection reveals that the home requires important repairs, your lawyer might draft a buyer's contract to secure the necessary repairs and/or a price reduction. In many cases, a lawyer can secure an agreement for the seller to pay the closing costs in exchange for the needed repairs. If you are the seller, your attorney can review the requests made by the buyer and ensure the buyer is not exceedinging what is reasonable.
Analyzing Your Documents
If you are the buyer, you will need to get a mortgage commitment or loan approval. Your mortgage commitment will include the interest rate, monthly payment, and the amount you will be required to put down at the closing. The loan approval must be obtained within 30 days. A lawyer can draft a financing contingency to ensure that the buyer promptly applies for a mortgage and will only cancel the transaction with a letter detailing that a lender denied their mortgage application. Having this contingency in place can protect you as a buyer from being accused of breaching the real estate contract if you are forced to withdraw because of a denial of financing.
An appraisal contingency can also be included in the buyer's contract. The appraisal of the property will be completed within seven to 10 days to determine its market value. Once the appraisal is completed, your attorney can negotiate the purchase price. A lawyer can also research the title to ensure it is clear and doesn't have any defects or liens. Sellers are required to provide buyers with clear titles without third-party claims, liens, encumbrances, code violations, or other ownership claims. your attorney can investigate the title to make sure that the title is clear to protect you from future claims.
Finally, your attorney will provide all of the documents you need to buy or sell the home that will be tailored to meet your needs. A real estate lawyer can both provide you with tailored paperwork and advise you about what all of the terms contained in it mean.
Having a real estate lawyer on your side can be invaluable whether you are in the market to buy a home or planning to sell residential real estate.
What Are the Risks of Not Retaining a Lawyer?
Real estate purchase contracts typically include a stipulation that the buyer will lose their deposit if the deal falls through. When you have an attorney, this type of clause can be removed from the contract. This can save you a significant amount of money if something goes wrong with the deal. Attorneys can also help to protect you against fraud, which is an increasingly prevalent problem with advances in technology. An attorney can identify when something is off and investigate the issues. They can alert you when the other party is potentially engaging in fraud. Some examples of fraud that can occur with residential real estate transactions include:
- Fake listings
- Misrepresentations by agents and sellers
- Forged property records
- Failures to disclose problems with the property
- Misrepresenting the condition of the property
With a residential real estate transaction, hundreds of thousands of dollars are likely involved. Hiring a lawyer can help you to protect yourself and your assets.
If you are a potential seller and are approached by a cash buyer who is pressuring you to go through a fast sale, the buyer might not be on the up and up. Your attorney can investigate to determine whether the situation is fraudulent or potentially just unusual.
Similarly, if you are contacted by a party who claims they want to buy your home sight unseen and sends all of the paperwork to you along with a cashier's check above your asking price, you will want to investigate it. The party might ask you to wire the extra funds back to them only for you to learn a few days later that the cashier's check was forged. If you had an attorney in that situation, they would have conducted due diligence to root out fraud and protect your money.
Another situation that sometimes arises occurs when the buyer goes through the entire process until closing and then demands a discount for repairs. If the seller refuses, the buyer will then file a notice of pendency, which means there is a lawsuit against the property. The seller will then be forced to negotiate and won't be able to sell the property to anyone else since the lawsuit against the property will cloud the title.
Consult a Real Estate Attorney in NJ
If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, you should consult a New Jersey real estate lawyer at the Ziegler Law Group, LLC. Call us at (973) 878-4373 to schedule a consultation.
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