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Do I Need a Lawyer to Sell My House?

Posted by Jane F. Bolin, Esq. | Dec 02, 2020 | 0 Comments

Selling your home? While it's not a legal requirement in Florida to hire an attorney, it's a good idea. Learn why you don't want to try to handle the process on your own.

If you're selling a home in Florida, you are not legally required to hire a lawyer to assist with the process, though it is a requirement in some states. However, it's still recommended so you can ensure your agreements and paperwork are being completed fairly and properly. 

There are many moving parts in the home sale process, some of which a real estate agent can assist you with, like marketing the home and coordinating appointments. But there are certain legal requirements and considerations that call for a deeper understanding of Florida laws and regulations regarding real estate. 

Here are the five main steps to be aware of when you're selling a home, and how an attorney can help you with the often-complicated process. 

Breaking down the basic home sale process

  1. Finding a real estate agent: Many Floridians selling a home will first hire a real estate agent to help them with the process. These professionals understand the market and can thus help price the home based on market research. They can help with marketing, scheduling open houses and visits, negotiating, and more. Just keep in mind that real estate agents take around 5% or 6% in commission from the sale.
  2. Real estate disclosures: In Florida, sellers must disclose certain information about their property that could affect overall value. The required disclosure form outlines common underlying issues like structural problems, pests, system defects, or appliances in need of repair.
  3. The offer process: When a buyer wants to purchase your home, they'll make a written offer that outlines the terms and closing details. You can reject or accept the offer, or make a counteroffer, which is more common. Maybe you and your agent will decide to accept some terms but make changes to the proposal. There may be several rounds of back-and-forth.
  4. Signing an agreement: The purchase and sale agreement will outline all agreed-upon terms. It may also include contingencies to pay close attention to, like the completion of an inspection that the buyer will coordinate.
  5. Closing: The closing takes place after all obligations have been met as outlined in the agreement. Final documents are prepared and signed, and the buyer pays according to the agreed-upon financial terms. Often, the seller doesn't even need to attend an official closing. The buyer and seller will sign final documents and the transfer is made as coordinated by the real estate agents.

These are the basic steps in the sale process. Note that you may also need to make a few additional investments in your home before putting it on the market to increase its value, such as obvious issues like leaks or cracks. 

How a lawyer can help

A real estate agent can assist you with a lot of the home sale process, making sure you're selling for a competitive price and arranging showings. But there are few things that only an attorney can help you with from a legal perspective. 

One example is contract negotiation. A real estate lawyer can sit down with you and go over the buyer's proposal to ensure that there are no concerning terms and that your interests are being represented. They can help you prepare a counteroffer and manage much of the negotiations. When it's time to prepare the final purchase and sale agreement, a lawyer will be able to prepare the language and help you understand all of your responsibilities. 

During closing, you'll have to prepare and sign a lot of paperwork. An attorney will be there every step of the way to make sure everything is beneficial to you and in compliance with all necessary legal processes. 

If you decide to sell your home without the help of a real estate agent, hiring an attorney will be especially important to get extra assistance with the legal process and paperwork. It's also a good idea if you're selling in an unusual circumstance, like a joint sale, estate sale, or short sale. These situations require a bit more legal legwork, so working with a lawyer can give you peace of mind that you're doing things the right way.

If you're ready to sell your home, contact the board-certified attorneys at PeytonBolin. We help with real estate transactions of all kinds and will ensure that your best interests are being served. We also step in if you need representation in real estate litigation.

Contact us to learn more about how our experts can help.

About the Author

Jane F. Bolin, Esq.

Founding Member, Managing Partner


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