What is require depends on the state. While there is no requirement for a lawyer anywhere in the US, in Massachusetts ... it is required to have a clear title before a real estate transaction can be completed and thus, at a minimum, a title company must be hired. This will run a couple hundred dollars at most.
In some states, like California, you can work through an Escrow agent and an attorney is less necessary than in some other states, like Massachusetts where there are no escrow/mediators and therefore, it would be in your best interest to have an attorney because chances are, the other party will have one.
If you reside outside of the US, there may be other complications and as has been said earlier, an attorney licensed in the state in which you plan to do business would be highly advised. I will go further to recommend that you work with an attorney that specializes in Real Estate.
The more you're willing to do and the more research and knowledge you're willing to have, the fewer people you will have hire. If this is the first time you are making a property purchase and intend on doing it more often, it may be worth it to hire a few experts for your first transaction or two and consider it tuition.
But you'd be crazy not to, especially being from outside the country.
I would also never use an attorney that is associated with the transaction.
What country do you live in?
Do you need a recommendation of some excellent real estate attorney's?
Hiring an attorney for your transaction is always recommended. There are two parts of the transaction that an attorney can assist you with. First, an attorney can negotiate your Purchase & Sale Agreement, which is important because you want to make sure you include the appropriate clauses to protect your deposit. The second part of the transaction is the closing. If you are financing your purchase, then a closing attorney will handle all of the bank paperwork, complete the HUD Settlement Statement, and conduct the closing.
I am an attorney and a broker, and I negotiate the Purchase & Sale Agreement at no cost for clients who hire me as a buyer's agent.
Hope that helps. Let me know if you need any assistance with your purchase.
All the best,
Michael P. Welsh