In NJ- When in the selling process is the best time to hire an attorney?

Asked by Pete, Newark, NJ Mon Dec 1, 2008

Do I need one to look over the listing contract?

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:

Answers

10
Kenneth Verb…, Agent, PRINCETON, NJ
Wed Dec 3, 2008
Listing agreements are pretty standard and fairly easy to understand. The most important terms are the length of time you are committed and the fee you will pay. (some may say it is unfortunate that exactly what we Realtors will do in order to facilitate the sale is not mentioned) It is pretty uncommon to have an attorney review the listing agreement but if it makes you comfortable I see no harm (other than the cost to you and the delay in time) You may want to insist upon either a short term agreement or a clause allowing you to terminate with a certain amount of notice in the event you are especially unhappy with your agent/agency) . Many agencies will refuse this so I suggest you go with one that stands behind their work.
0 votes
William Leigh…, , New Jersey
Tue Dec 2, 2008
Pete: "Hiring" an attorney is something you should do when you have work for him to do, just like hiring Joe the Plumber. Finding an attorney who will do a good job should start before you are ready to hire him, just like knowing what plumber you'd call when the water heater looks like the Fountain of Trevi. All attorneys are not created equal. Some know nothing about the Real Estate field. Obviously, you need one who does.

You will be involved in two contracts, the listing contract and the selling contract. Finally, you will have a closing where you will sign a ton of documents. If you feel experienced and knowledgeable, you don't need a lawyer for any of it! You will need to generate a Deed and Affidavit of Title. They are legal documents but can be arranged through a Title Company or can be drawn up inexpensively by an Attorney. You will not get any other legal advice if you choose that route.

I've never personally seen a case where an attorney was asked to review a listing agreement. It is a contract and there are standard ones in use in the state. If you feel up to it, review it with your selected agent. I'd ask specifically for an escape clause, so you can cancel if the relationship is not satisfactory to you. While I would cancel any listing if my service were not appreciated, many others will not and will hang on until grim death or the expiration of the term. The escape clause will put you in control.

I have had a listing contract that specifically let the seller cancel it upon written notice. The only thing that I would insist on as an agent is that I was compensated for my effort if the cancellation was requested. If the property went under contract, I'd expect that you'd stick until closing and I got the commission that I'd earned. I think that's only fair don't you?

Best of luck with your sale!
0 votes
Paul Howard, Agent, Cherry Hill, NJ
Tue Dec 2, 2008
I don't list homes since I only represent buyers but I think it would be wise to have an attorney look at the listing contract. Suppose the company you select to list your home does a poor job. Can you cancel the listing before the end of the term and re list with another company without penalty? Did the agent, in explaining commissions, mention that the amount shown in the listing agreement is not binding on a selling agent from another company - for example you may offer a split of 2.5% to a buyer broker but a broker with a buyer may already be in a contract with them providing that they will receive a 3% commission when the agent for that company finds them a home. In most such cases the buyer will condition their offer on the seller paying the 3% commission - not the 2.5% you may have expected. Remember, you are not a party to the agreement between the buyer broker and the buyer and they are not a party to your listing agreement. You'll look at your bottom line and negotiate a sales price you can live with.

Line up your attorney now. Make sure they will be available to review documents as needed. Make sure they are real estate attorneys or you will end up paying for what they do not know.
0 votes
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Tue Dec 2, 2008
Hi Pete, you will surely need an attorney to review an accepted offer and represent you through the process to closing. As far as reviewing the listing contract, generally the form is standard, but there may be specific language at the firm level. I'd suggest that you ask your realtor to explain the contract in detail and if you still feel uneasy signing, then sure you can engage an attorney to review. But I don't recall seeing a listing agreement marked up and changed by an attorney. Nonetheless you are signing a binding agreement for the term of the listing so you want to be sure you understand what you are signing.

Whatever you do, and whenever you decide to do it, be sure to use a real estate attorney.

Good luck and best,
Jeannie Feenick
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference:  http://www.feenick.com
0 votes
Laura Gianno…, Agent, Manahawkin, NJ
Tue Dec 2, 2008
As already stated, you should ask your Realtor any questions you have about the home selling process. As Realtors, we are required to tell you at each step of the process, be it signing a Consumer Information Statement or Listing Agreement, that if you have questions to consult an attorney.

With regard to the listing agreement, walk through it section by section with your Realtor. Since we use a standard agreement form, your Realtor should be able to explain each section to your satisfation.


Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Atlantic Shore
609-384-6121
0 votes
Joan Prout, , Basking Ridge, NJ
Mon Dec 1, 2008
I doubt you need to have an attorney look over a listing contract, and even when you have accepted an offer (presented through an agent), you still have a statutory period of 3 business days, specifically set aside for you to have an attorney review the contract you've signed. The contract is not binding on you for those 3 days.

I think its a good idea to select your attorney before the offer even comes in. I've found that most real estate attorneys will be happy to speak with you ahead of time about their services rarely charge a retainer. You should choose an attorney who specializes in real estate. Your real estate agent probably hse attorneys to recommend, or contact me directly for the list of real estate attorneys who've done a good job for my clients in the past. (It's on my website, too.)

Joan Prout, MBA
Broker Associate
RE/MAX Villa REALTORS
306 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
201-946-2700 x310
800-671-0596 x1 (direct)
Joan@JoanProut.com
Web Reference:  http://www.JoanProut.com
0 votes
Janet Larsen, Agent, Turnersville, NJ
Mon Dec 1, 2008
Pete,

In addition to my previous response, I would also say that your Realtor should be reviewing the listing agreement with you and explaining anything that is being filled in, such as Listing Price, Listing Period, Commissions, Broker Protection, etc. If you are still not clear and do not feel comfortable, then by all means, hire an attorney.....

Janet
Web Reference:  http://www.njrealtorjan.com
0 votes
Janet Larsen, Agent, Turnersville, NJ
Mon Dec 1, 2008
Pete,

You have asked about an attorney for the "listing" of your home, not the buying of a home, I presume. If you are not comfortable and have any hesitation, it is a good idea to have an attorney look over the listing contract prior to your signing it. I recommend that you get a Real Estate Attorney to review. If you are questioning the need for an attorney, I would say you should get an attorney.

Janet Larsen
Remax Connection
660 Woodbury Glassboro Rd
Sewell, NJ 08080
Web Reference:  http://www.njrealtorjan.com
0 votes
Pete, Home Seller, Newark, NJ
Mon Dec 1, 2008
Thank you Sharon but I should have been clearer on my question. When in the SELLING process should I hire an attorney? Do I need one to look over the listing contract?
Thank you
0 votes
Sharon Kozinn, Agent, Hillsdale, NJ
Mon Dec 1, 2008
You should have an attorney selected before you make an offer on a house. Ask your friends, co-workers, etc and get a few names. Make some calls, ask about fees, availability, etc. Chooses the atty you think you will be the most comfortable working with. Once you have an accepted offer, then the agent will forward all the paperwork to your attorney.
If you just started to look around then, you would hold up the process .
This way, you have made your choice, and if you have any questions before, you make an offer, you have someone to call on.

Good Luck.

Sharon Kozinn
Web Reference:  http://sharonkozinn.com
0 votes
Search Advice
Search
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more