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Old 06-03-2011, 07:57 AM
 
12 posts, read 10,515 times
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Default Should I use a real estate attorney when buying in NoVA?

I'm buying my first house in Alexandria and have not yet signed a contract (just got the offer accepted and am waiting on the contract to be written up).

I was wondering if it would be wise to have a real estate attorney read over the contract before signing it? Would this be the same attorney that would be present at closing to help interpret the papers?

Did you just use your buyer's agent to explain things to you? I would do this, but I feel the agent has the sale in mind, and is not going to point out things with the contract that might be "funny" or other provisions that are slanted away from the buyer.

If you did use an attorney, who would you recommend (or recommend to stay away from)?

Also, is it weird that the seller (also the agent) is saying we use their title company of choice? The seller-agent said that they would take off certain "fees" if we use the title company she wants (because she works for some mortgage company or something and can do this, not sure about the details).

Thanks so much. I'm new to this whole process and any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
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Old 06-03-2011, 08:23 AM
 
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I should note that my husband doesn't think we need one, he thinks we can read over the contract ourselves and see if anything looks fishy.

I think it's our first time to ever see a contract and it may be best to have a lawyer look over it. It makes me nervous. Are contracts "standard" in NoVA if they come from real estate companies (like Long & Foster, Weichert and Jobin Realtors)?
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Old 06-03-2011, 08:29 AM
 
Location: Manassas, VA
1,545 posts, read 1,581,865 times
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Gosh....I've never used an attorney for that. The contract is the contract and I think those are pretty standard. Obviously - read over the price, closing date, if anything was to be included, etc.... But....I don't think you need an attorney for this. As for the Title company, I really wouldn't worry about that - don't think it makes much difference who you use for that.
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Old 06-03-2011, 08:48 AM
 
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Vermonter16, thanks for your experience. It makes me feel a little better. It's not like we have tons of cash to just give away to an attorney if we really don't need one, but could do it if we had too, which is why I wanted to know what others have done.

Good to know about the title company too. I didn't know if that was shady or something.
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC (formerly Vienna, VA)
5,824 posts, read 5,953,230 times
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I don't know if it was wise or not, but we did not use a real estate attorney. We signed the contract and just had our buyer's agent at settlement. Our seller was not an agent, though.
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Sterling, VA
1,043 posts, read 1,806,330 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Movingsoon2011 View Post
I'm buying my first house in Alexandria and have not yet signed a contract (just got the offer accepted and am waiting on the contract to be written up).

I was wondering if it would be wise to have a real estate attorney read over the contract before signing it? Would this be the same attorney that would be present at closing to help interpret the papers?

Did you just use your buyer's agent to explain things to you? I would do this, but I feel the agent has the sale in mind, and is not going to point out things with the contract that might be "funny" or other provisions that are slanted away from the buyer.

If you did use an attorney, who would you recommend (or recommend to stay away from)?

Also, is it weird that the seller (also the agent) is saying we use their title company of choice? The seller-agent said that they would take off certain "fees" if we use the title company she wants (because she works for some mortgage company or something and can do this, not sure about the details).

Thanks so much. I'm new to this whole process and any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
If I understand you correctly the seller is also the only agent involved in this. In other words, you do not have your own buyer agent? This is more information than you had in your other post. In Virginia the buyer chooses the settlement agent (the title company) and the title company is by law neutral and represents the transaction to make sure everything is done legally.

Honestly, I would recommend you have an attorney to represent you. There is too much that disturbs me about this situation. The fact that the agent also works for a mortgage company is especially odd.

The seller of the house is not going to be looking after your best interest but their own best interest. I don't know any attorneys in your area but call a title company and ask for a real estate attorney referral, they have real estate attorneys on staff. Make sure you are specific that you want an attorney to represent only you.
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:24 AM
 
1,981 posts, read 1,722,522 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Movingsoon2011 View Post
I should note that my husband doesn't think we need one, he thinks we can read over the contract ourselves and see if anything looks fishy.

I think it's our first time to ever see a contract and it may be best to have a lawyer look over it. It makes me nervous. Are contracts "standard" in NoVA if they come from real estate companies (like Long & Foster, Weichert and Jobin Realtors)?
As long as it is the standard Northern Virginia Realtors (tm) Association form contract, you won't have to worry about that part of it. Anything that is filled in onto the form, be sure to double-check to make sure it meets with what you intend the bargain to be.

It's fine to use the agent's title company of choice. There are often "dedicated" title companies that do all the title work for a realty company in exchange for reduced fees for the guaranteed stream of work, but they have an attorney that signs off on the deal and generally things run smoothly.

The only real need to have an independent attorney look things over is if you are not working from the NVRA standard form, if it is new construction, or if there are some very unusual deal points in your particular contract (removal of an in-ground swimming pool, for example, as a contingency).

Good luck with the closing & move, and I hope you enjoy your new home.
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:37 AM
 
19,178 posts, read 19,642,039 times
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You will seriously NOT want to sit there reading through the 30-50 pages or more of forms and fine print that you will need to sign and initial until your hand falls off. Nearly all the forms are standard however, and whoever is at the table must provide you with a good faith description of what each form says and does. You can ask all the questions you want. You should in any case have a grace period of 3 business days to change your mind if after settlement you discover something you don't like. They will give you an "I've changed my mind" form along with all the others. It is important to be sure that you understand the commitments you are making and the options that you have. Will the deed be titled the way you want...can the monthly P&I ever change...is there a prepayment penalty...how do you get rid of PMI, if any...what is the grace period before a late fee applies. All that should be spelled out for you, but one way or another, find out. A lawyer used to be de rigeur at one time, but more and more people do without. There will be plenty of time later to pay lawyers for stuff anyway. There's no need to rush into that...
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:57 AM
 
Location: Sterling, VA
1,043 posts, read 1,806,330 times
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[quote=saganista;19429447] You should in any case have a grace period of 3 business days to change your mind if after settlement you discover something you don't like. They will give you an "I've changed my mind" form along with all the others."


The 3 day grace period only applies to a refinance. If it is a purchase the deed goes to record usually the same day or early the next day and there is no changing your mind.
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Old 06-03-2011, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Manassas, VA
1,545 posts, read 1,581,865 times
Reputation: 755
Even if your agent happens to be the seller....that's ok and I wouldn't expect anything 'odd' happening. Yes, the agent wants the sale but I don't think they are going to do anything crazy as far as misrepresentation is concerned. We had a real estate agent helping us buy land one time...turns out the land we wanted he was listing for someone else. It worked out. We negotiated normally and the contract was normal in every way.

Don't sweat the small stuff....yes, this is your first home and you think you're overwhelmed or a bit stressed now...wait til you get to the table and sign your entire life away....sheesh....that was overwhelming my first time. The second time was like - aaaah, whatever.

Just read the main components of the contract where things are inserted....the rest should be a standard contract for the state.
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