Buyer's Agent or Real Estate Attorney or Both? The answer really depends on where you live.
In NYC, for example, it is customary to work with both a buyer's agent and an attorney. It seems like the buyer's agent helps you locate the property and then your attorney handles the contract negotiations and the escrow.
In San Francisco, Realtors handle both aspects. We help our clients figure out how to find the best home for their particular needs. We negotiate on their behalf and prepare all of the paperwork (contracts, disclosures...) and we organize the escrow's transactional details.
Any buyer or seller can consult an attorney if they want. Certainly, any smart agent would encourage this if the client is interested. That said, in my experience, a lawyer is usually brought in when the transaction is extra complicated or has extenuating circumstances, like TIC or tenant-occupied purchases.
It is a fabulous time to be a first time buyer.
While the mortgage markets are tough for many home buyers, there are great new options for first time buyers through the increased conforming loan limits and improved FHA standards! Using the safe and stable FHA loans, you can purchase a home with 5% or even 3% down. Rates are good too and these are most often 30-year fixed loan programs.
The programs will not work for some condos or higher-priced homes but if you're looking at the first time buyer end, it is smart to check out the benefits of buying before the end of the year.
For more compelling reasons, check out the blog link below or cut & paste http://sfhotlist.com/blog/2008/08/20/calling-all-1st-time-bu
into your browser.