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Do you really need a lawyer when buying a house?

So you're considering buying a house. Whether you're a first-time buyer or you've been around the block, you know that purchasing property is a major investment. Why wouldn't you do everything you can to make sure your interests are protected?

What could go wrong?

Most people who buy a home work with a real estate agent. While this is not a bad idea in itself, realtors don't always have the ability to customize an agreement to your needs or explain in detail the potential ramifications of signing documents before you know what they are really saying.

The following are some common mishaps that occur when buying a home:

  1. Signing a contract that fails to address legal problems. Realtors use standard forms. When it comes to buying a home, however, one size doesn't always fit all. If there is anything slightly out of the ordinary about your situation or that of the sellers, it is important to have a contract that addresses it. Failing to do so can leave you with serious problems down the road.
  2. Failing to ask the right questions during negotiations. Especially if you have never purchased a home before, you may not know all of the questions to ask when negotiating a purchase. Do you know if alterations to the property were done legally? Does your contract address what happens if the inspection turns up a serious problem like asbestos or termites? Will there be penalties if the closing never happens? Not knowing the answers to these questions and others can leave you in a serious bind.
  3. Being the only party at the closing without a lawyer. It is important to ensure your best interests are protected when you are buying a house. If you show up to finalize the sale without an attorney representing you, especially when everyone else has one, you put yourself at risk of being taken advantage of making a mistake.

How a lawyer can protect you

Buying a home should not be taken lightly. One mistake can leave you trapped in a bad situation. With an attorney on your side, however, you can rest assured that you are leaving no stone unturned. Your attorney can make sure you are asking the right questions, and protect your rights if things aren't going your way. In short, you lawyer can help ensure that you feel 100 percent confident when it comes time sign the purchase agreement.

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