Do I need a Real Estate Attorney?

If you are moving to Austin from another destination in our great nation, you will quickly discover that there are possibly many features of Texas Real Estate that are different from the place where you live today. For example:
  • The necessity for a personal Real Estate Attorney. We certainly have and use Real Estate attorney's in Texas, but many transactions that happen each day in the State of Texas take place without the assistance of a personal attorney representing the buyer or representing the seller. The Texas Real Estate Commission strongly recommends that you have all Title Commitments reviewed by a Texas Real Estate attorney who knows Texas law and can advise you on to matters of title, and it is also recommended that if you have questions concerning the promulgated contract documents that you will sign while making an offer on a property in Texas, that you direct these questions to a Texas Real Estate attorney. But in the end, many buyers of property in Austin today will go to closing without ever having spoken to a Real Estate attorney. (Let me be clear: I am not advocating that attorney's be left out of your Real Estate transaction, and I am not trying to side-skirt the recommendation that questions, concerns and review of title be handled by a licensed Real Estate attorney in Texas. But I am saying that the use of promulgated forms in Texas Real Estate, drafted by the Texas Real Estate Commission's Legal Committee, does in fact reduce the dependence of attorney participation in the contracting process in our state).
If you have contract questions, title questions or any concerns in the Real Estate contracting process, you should ask me for a list of recommended (real estate) attorneys in the Austin area. I try to surround my real estate practice with the best and the brightest, and when it comes to Real Estate legal advise, I have my "go to" attorneys that I will be happy to pass along to you to help with your particular needs.

Comments

  1. Hey Tim - Great post! One more thing that confuses some out-of-state buyers is the escrow process. While the majority of US states utilize the services of title companies to close escrow, many states use attorneys. As a Revenue Manager for 3 different offices of my real estate company (two in North Carolina, one in Texas), I can tell you that so-called "title states" are MUCH easier and more convenient to deal with than "attorney states". In my North Carolina offices, closings/settlements are handled at an attorney's office of the buyer's choice (escrow is not negotiable like it is here in Texas). You mention "Title Company" to a REALTOR in North Carolina and they look at you funny and say "who cares what Title Insurance company/policy we use?" Instead they want to know who the attorney handling escrow is. While there are many,many attorneys that are more than competent in the escrow/settlement process, there are also many who are very sloppy, lazy,have Yahoo/AOL/ Google e-mail adresses (example: johndoelawyer@yahoo.com) and very poor communication skills. Furthermore, they don't have the immediate access to title plants and outsource this aspect of the closing, so that particular process is often prolonged. The paralegals handle the actual signing of docs, and often times the attorney is not even present at the closing table, thus mitigating the client's peace of mind of having an attorney at the closing table. Some of these paralegals are great, but others have limited real estate knowledge. It can occasionally make my Carolinas job very frustrating in comparison with Texas! But I cannot and will not complain too much, because in New York it as a far more challenging process. Each side of the transaction (buyer and seller) must have an attorney present at closing.You can imagine the headaches this causes! You couple that with the fact that New York City does not even have an MLS system, and we should thank our lucky, Lone Stars that we do business in Texas! We are VERY lucky to be a "Title State". That being said, we all know that some title companies are better than others, and good REALTORS such as yourself are prepared to recommend to clients which ones are top notch and which ones are sub-par. Cheers!

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