Should you ask your own real property lawyer?

When you see issues with the real property that raise questions, and you want to know the answers before you commit to the purchase, then you should consult with your own real property lawyer. Click here to review “What should you expect to receive during a consultation with Dwight Bickel, as your real property lawyer?” 

It is true that most purchasers of residential real property in Puget Sound do not consult with a real estate lawyer. Real estate brokers, working in association with a title company, a mortgage company and an escrow company, are adequate for most people to provide the information most people believe they need to purchase the property. Real estate brokers and the Limited Practice Officer employed as the escrow agent are good at providing the documents like the Purchase and Sale Agreement, Escrow Instructions and the deeds and other documents to complete the closing of residential transactions.

But the real truth is that most people would benefit from a short consultation with a real estate lawyer. Real estate brokers are not allowed to provide legal advice. They are obligated to refer their customers to professionals for many types of assistance. There are issues that the average person is not likely to understand. Most people purchasing real property will have these types of questions that their real estate broker cannot answer:

  • about principles of real property law,
  • about the uses that neighbors may be allowed to have on the real property,
  • about the typical rights and burdens that are allowed by easements, covenants, restrictions, agreements, mortgages, liens, assessments,
  • about different ways you can show on title as the owner of the real property,
  • about different alternative ways to finance for unpaid purchase price,
  • about whether easements, covenants or restrictions will affect your intended use of the property in the future,
  • about whether neighbors might have enforceable easements that are not shown on the title report, especially matters that an inspection or a survey would show to you,
  • about possible assessments or taxes that might not be listed on a title report,
  • about the protection you will receive from the title insurance policy,
  • about the major limitations of the title insurance coverage, or
  • about possible title defects.

Maybe that fence that looks like the boundary is way inside your legal boundary. Maybe you will not be able to claim ownership of all the land within your deed legal description. Maybe your neighbor legally owns the land on the neighbor’s side of the fence, even if that is within the land described on your deed. You should ask for legal advice before you guess.

Maybe that fence that looks like the boundary is on your neighbor’s side of the legal boundary. Maybe your neighbor will be able to force you to move a boundary improvement. You should ask for legal advice before you guess.

Real estate brokers are not usually able to answer questions like these that require knowledge of real property case law and statutes. The services provided by real estate brokers are usually limited, so you should expect your real estate broker to refer you to other professionals.

Copyright ©2020 Dwight Alan Bickel, Attorney at Law
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