Q. Why do I need a lawyer to buy or sell my house?
A. In Massachusetts, it is customary if not imperative to retain an attorney who is well versed in residential real estate transactions to prepare or review all documents that will bind you to sell or purchase. What if there’s an easement to cross the driveway? What if the neighbor’s fence is on my property? Do I have to grant the buyer’s architects, designers and contractors access to my house after the Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed? Do I have to sell my house if my job transfer is rescinded? These and other questions arise frequently, and our professionally drafted and reviewed Agreements will address potential problems before they arise.
Q. When should I retain an attorney when buying or selling a house?
A. Before you submit or accept an Offer to Purchase. In most instances the real estate agent or broker will assist you in negotiating the Offer to Purchase. However, we also recommend that if time permits you submit it to your attorney for review and comment as well. The attorneys at Kertzman & Weil, LLP are available on weekends to assist if and as needed.
Q. Can the corporate attorney who handles my business affairs represent me in buying a house?
A. Very possibly that attorney may not have experience in handling residential real estate. If not, your interests would be best served by retaining an attorney who handles real estate issues as his or her primary or sole practice.
Q. Do you need a retainer?
A. Very rarely. In most matters we are compensated at the close of the transaction.
Q. Can you assist if I am not using a real estate broker?
A. Yes. Our services are exceedingly important in the absence of a broker. A real estate broker or agent does far more than just find you a house or find you a buyer. We can certainly assist in negotiations, prepare or respond to the Offer to Purchase and resolve inspection and other problems that may arise.
Q. Why should I buy an owner’s title insurance policy?
A. Similar to a homeowner’s insurance policy which protects the actual physical dwelling, the title to your property should also be protected. Title insurance protects the policy holder from losses that may occur from various defects in title. It helps to provide you with peace of mind and takes the risk out of acquiring property. Although the attorney conducting your closing will certify the quality of the title, there can still be costly unknowns that can wreak havoc with your biggest investment.
Although the property may be new to you, and you may have even bought a newly- constructed home, title to the land has most likely been transferred many times prior to your purchase. Most residential transactions occur between private individuals, but it is not uncommon for property to be acquired through inheritance, foreclosure or bankruptcy. During any type of transfer, errors could have arisen which may cause a “cloud” (a problem) in your title. If you purchase the property without the protection of title insurance, this type of issue could lead to a costly expenditure by you to defend your title or even worse, it could lead to the loss of your property and the money that you paid for its acquisition.
An owner’s policy insures you against possible title claims against your property, and provides you with immediate and expert legal support. Keep in mind that the lender’s policy required to be purchased by the bank at closing protects the lender for the amount of its loan, but it does not protect the homeowner. For a one time cost, you can have peace of mind knowing you are protected from title defects such as forged documents, undisclosed or missing heirs, unknown creditors, misfiled rights or easements or mistakes in recording at the Registry of Deeds. In short, an owner’s policy provides you protection against title defects that existed at any time prior to the purchase of your property. Additionally, the title companies for whom Kertzman & Weil, LLP is an agent now offer enhanced policies that protect the homeowner against defects that arise even after the property is purchased.
Q. Can Kertzman & Weil attorneys prepare our estate plans?
A. We at Kertzman & Weil, LLP know real estate and we have intentionally limited our practice. We have a network of fine attorneys to whom we make referrals in virtually all other areas of practice.
Q. We’re selling our house and moving out of state. Do we need to attend the closing?
A. No, your attendance at closing is not required. We will draft and arrange for you to sign the deed and a limited power of attorney. We will explain what will take place at closing, go over the closing figures, and arrange to wire the proceeds as you may direct.
Q. Can Kertzman & Weil assist in recommendations for a real estate broker and a mortgage lender?
A. Certainly. Since we have been actively involved in residential real estate for many years, we know the players and can identify which professionals would be the best fit for purchases and sales in Boston, the suburbs and the Cape and Islands.