You probably wouldn’t think to hire a lawyer when you buy your groceries. Even when you make a larger purchase, such as an appliance or a vehicle, you typically do so without consulting an attorney. So, shouldn’t it be the same when you buy your home?
Purchasing a home can be an exciting time, but it can also be intimidating and overwhelming. You would be right to seek advice, and you probably have many friends and family members who would willingly offer their words of wisdom. However, because the purchase of a home involves many legal issues that could affect you beyond the settlement date, North Carolina requires home buyers to have an attorney present at closing. Having an attorney could benefit you during the purchase process and in the long run.
As with most major transactions, the purchase of a home involves numerous contracts. Legal terminology in a contract or brokerage agreement can be vague and confusing to someone without experience and knowledge of real estate laws in North Carolina. Without legal advice, home buyers have been known to sign contracts agreeing to terms they did not understand and which left them in disastrous situations. An attorney can review your contract for any terms that could affect you negatively and negotiate for a more favorable agreement.
A real estate agent or seller may present you with a standard contract or purchase agreement, but the property you wish to purchase may have special circumstances that require more specific contractual terms. Relying on a verbal agreement with the seller is dangerous since the signed contract has much more credibility if the matter goes to court.
Ensuring a clear title
Perhaps one of the most complex and essential elements of a home purchase is the title search. Often, a title company conducts this search, which clarifies that the seller has the legal right to offer the property and that no one else has a claim to it. However, if you are working with a licensed real estate lawyer, you will have an advocate who can handle the transfer of the title to ensure no mistakes are made.
Additionally, an attorney will be able to advise you about zoning laws in the area where you intend to purchase and also represent you during the closing process. Closing is when the deed and all other documents are processed. The title passes to you, and the house becomes your property. If you and your attorney have carefully reviewed the closing documents prior to your appointment, you will have no unpleasant surprises on the day when you accept the key to your new home.