Do I need to consult an attorney before signing a real estate offer to purchase? 

real estate offer

Here's what you should consider when it's time to buy a home. 

For many people, buying a home is one of the most significant investments they'll make in their lifetimes. So it just makes sense to take a step back and consider whether you should consult with an attorney before signing a real estate offer to purchase. And while we Midwesterners are known to be honest and forthright people, the truth is an attorney can offer an invaluable layer of protection against unforeseen circumstances and an often untrustworthy world. 

Reasons you may want legal advice when purchasing a home

It's not always necessary to consult with an attorney before signing a purchase agreement, particularly when working with a trusted and experienced real estate agent, and the purchase is simple and straightforward. However, as with any contract, having an attorney look over your real estate purchase agreement before you sign can give a buyer peace of mind amid many potential issues. Here are some of the benefits of consulting with an attorney before signing on the dotted line. 

  • An attorney can ensure the terms of the purchase agreement are fair to you. Let's face it: sellers don't always hold the interests of the buyers paramount. An attorney can provide an objective perspective on the particulars of your purchase agreement so that you can negotiate a deal that is fair to you. 
  • Financing can get complicated. When financing differs from standard mortgage lending, you could benefit from legal counsel to review the purchase agreement or draw up the contract. 
  • Property that is being sold after the death of the owner can also get messy at times. An attorney can ensure all the right people are signing the contract — which is essential wherever heirs or beneficiaries are involved. An attorney can also help determine whether those selling the estate have the authority to do so.
  • The sale of properties other than single-family homes can also get complex. For example, the sale of farmland, a ranch or commercial property can be particularly convoluted when it comes to restricted use of the property. Unfortunately, some unsuspecting buyers purchase property only to find out too late they cannot use it in the way they had intended — an error that comes at a high personal and financial cost. An attorney can help buyers know whether the terms of the sale will enable them to use the land or property as they wish.
  • An attorney can clarify the particulars of the sale, including cost-sharing, zoning, inspection expectations and what's included in the purchase. The legal description of the property is also an aspect to consider. Sometimes inaccurate descriptions can lead to disputes. Buyers otherwise may be at risk of shouldering more of the sale costs than intended, receiving less than they expect with the sale or failing to identify and negotiate terms that could help them save money in the long run. 

Simply put, buyers and sellers have differing interests. Sellers want the highest price and to be absolved of liability after the sale. Buyers want the lowest price possible, the ability to use the property as they wish and seller concessions on unsatisfactory contract terms. Assuming the seller is looking out for the buyer's well-being can be problematic. Having an attorney on your side ensures someone has your back in the midst of one of life's biggest investments, and you can take advantage of the freedom to negotiate on terms that don't measure up to your expectations or needs. 

Signing a purchase agreement on a property? We can give you the legal advice you need.

As trusted attorneys in the Greater La Crosse area, we are frequently consulted on property purchases. Unfortunately, sometimes real estate buyers reach out to us after they have already signed a purchase agreement — and by then, they've lost valuable footing when it comes to making changes to the agreement, as the seller is not obligated to allow contractual changes. Contact us before you sign a purchase agreement for real estate so you can know and understand your legal rights, options and responsibilities. 


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