Home Buying in Silver Lake>Question Details

Kristina, Home Buyer in Los Angeles, CA

How important is it to hire a real estate attorney to look over the contract before buying?

Asked by Kristina, Los Angeles, CA Fri Jan 11, 2008

Also, how much does it usually cost for that service and does anyone have any recommendations is the silver lake/ hollywood area.

Help the community by answering this question:


Most real estate is sold with form, pre-printed sales contracts written or approved by the local Realtor association. Almost all of them have an "attorney review period" that allows your attorney to look at the contract once you sign it, and, if need be, get you out of the contract. You don't need the attorney to look at it before signing, as long as there is an attorney review period.

The information in this answer is general information and is not intended as legal advice, nor do I intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any reader by answering this question or otherwise contributing as a member of Trulia.com.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 11, 2011
It is absolutely the most useless waste of time and money. Your Realtor has a fiduciary duty to protect your best interest.
Web Reference: http://sethihomes.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 10, 2009
Always have a real estate attorney at your side, it's money well spent ...

They should cover things with you like breach of contract, specific performance, non-disclosure, fraud or misrepresentation -- which happens every minute of everyday ... .

And for those pesky little real estate broker issues like possible claims against, or their agents, including negligence, fraud/misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, disclosure obligations - ya know, stuff like that .

If you ever open-up a storefront or a business you need to understand things like a commercial purchase or a lease and how a breach of contract is really structured and things like specific performance or any "non-disclosures" --- which again, happens everyday ...

If you're building a house, anything "can" and "will" happen, believe me ... so it's nice to have someone there that truly understands things like construction defects and mechanic's liens or disputes that owners, builders and contractors often have ...

And lets not forget that nutty neighbor across the street that just constructed that 33ft statue of Dale Earnhardt, thats gotta go ......... A good real estate attorney knows all the land use and zoning matters and he'll move with representation of the property owners before governmental entities (cities, counties, zoning boards, design review boards) relating to this land use application...

A good attorney can also break down all of those crazy variances, zoning exceptions, and any "new" approvals, "and" any special use permits, as well as any common interest communities, including the enforcement of the local covenants and conditions & restrictions.

But whatever it takes --- Dale is gotta go ..l.o.l....

Good luck and happy hunting.!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2008
It's more important to find a Real Estate professional that knows the in and outs of the contract. There are alot of coningencies, disclosures that need to be given at a reasonable time, HOA docs(if is a condo/townhouse) that need to be given to the buyer at a reasonable time. Our job is to protect you and help gudie you through one of the most important decisions and investments in your life. A good Realtor will be all you need!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 17, 2008
When I made an offer on a new home in March, I had a real estate atty look it over. It turns out that I understood every aspect of the contract except one clause. It turned out that the specific clause I misunderstood was a very important clause.

I considered it a $625 well spent and my general opinion is that if you can't afford to have the real estate atty review the contract, on what it likely your largest purchase ever, then you either cannot afford the home or you are very foolish.

My contract review cost was on the higher side as it was a builder contract and was "non-standard". That being said, the California standard real estate contracts are common and pretty bullet proof; the big differences come into play on the contingencies and which allow you to get out of the contract or allow reduction in price.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 17, 2008
Kristina, I have never had any of my clients use an attorney to look over the contract. The department of real estate has made specific contracts- gone over them with a fine tooth comb- and made them to work for the consumer. If you are being represented by an agent they have a fiduciary responsibility to protect your interest. That is what they are paid for.

Patti Phillips
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2008

Karoline has a very good point. California is a state filled with consumer protections. Disclose, disclose, disclose is the Realtor's mantra.

It's important to note that each individual that recommended consulting an attorney, is from another state, most likely a state with fewer consumer protections. The majority of my business is in Long Beach, & I have never represented a client who felt they needed a lawyer to approve a contract.

Karen Miller
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2008
Frankly, most people don't, and most transactions go smoothly. However, it's always advisable to have an attorney look over the contract. And it becomes even more important if the transaction is in any ways unusual. One caution, just as real estate agents aren't lawyers, lawyers aren't real estate agents. They're lawyers, and--depending on their knowledge and their temperament--are looking for problems. That's what they're paid to do. So some have earned the reputation as deal-breakers.

The cost can vary, depending on how "standard" your contract is, your lawyer's knowledge of real estate (you don't want someone who has to spend a couple of extra hours researching terms and concepts that a real estate lawyer should know), and the lawyer's hourly rate. The cost might range anywhere from $250-$750, though you might find numbers outside those bounds, too. One other option is to sign up with one of the prepaid legal services. They do use real lawyers. And though my experience with them hasn't been particularly good, it certainly would be much better than nothing. And prepaid legal services typically run $29-$49 a month.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2008
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
Of course it is important to have an attorney review the contract. I am both an attorney and a real estate broker. Brokers and agents just want the deal to close so they get paid. They are NOT going to warn you of any potential problems. Notice how almost all of the agents answering this question REALLY don't want people using attorneys. What are they so afraid of? Why would you purchase a $500,000 piece of real estate without spending $500 to have an objective third party (the attorney) explain the details to you. Your agent is not an attorney and is not qualified to explain all of the legal ramifications. In fact, it is illegal if they do try to explain the legal ramifications since they are practicing law without a license. You need the attorney to protect you from the agents!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 11, 2011
Kristina, good to be cautious, but real estate contracts in Los Angeles are standard forms. ALL realtors and real estate agents who know what they are doing also know and understand the contracts. Instead of wasting money on lawyer fees...apply it to the closing cost of the house you baught with the right real estate agent.

Contact me if you have more questions.
Web Reference: http://www.ken-dang.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 20, 2010
Hi Kristina:

In most standard real estate contracts (and I hope a California agent will chime in here -- Sylvia?), there is an attorney review clause that allows your attorney to review the terms and conditions of the contract, make any suggested modifications, and, should those suggested modficiations not be agreed-upon by the other party, still allow you, as a buyer, the opportunity to cancel the contract without penalty.

If the contract you are using is standard, most attorneys will know it in their sleep and easily be able to review it and make any suggested modifications (to protect your best interest) within the specified attorney review timeframe.

However, if you are using a non-standard contract (ie, a builder contract), it is advisable to have an attorney review the terms and conditions before signing. If this is not possible (i.e, the builder will not allow you to access the contract for preview), be sure to CAREFULLY read the attorney review clause within the contract to know what your rights will be to cancel the contract, should it be necessary.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2008
Patti Pereyra, Real Estate Pro in Chicago, IL
Would you let someone take out your appendix if they were not a doctor? I would not enter into any "legally" binding agreement without having someone who is trained (a lawyer) having looked over the contract to protect my rights.
Web Reference: http://www.capecodera.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2008
Hi Kristina,

It is not necessary. What are the issues that you are concerned about? Is there a certain property that you plan to make an offer on? Is there something unusual about the property or the transaction?

What you need is a strong buyer's agent to guide you through the process.

Best of luck,

Karen Miller
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2008
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