Sellers sometimes ask us whether or not they need an attorney in order to sell their home. In Massachusetts, it is standard for buyers to be represented by an attorney and is even mandatory when the buyer is taking out a mortgage. (Technically, that attorney is representing the bank, but for the most part, the bank and the buyer are both “on the same side”.) For sellers, there is certainly no law in Massachusetts mandating that they be represented by an attorney. However, there are definitely seller obligations that are best handled by an experienced real estate attorney. With such an important asset at stake, sellers would be ill-advised to “go it alone” or to believe that their Realtor can handle whatever comes up.
Below is a list of typical attorney services* that are provided by the attorney representing the seller:
- Comprehensive review of Seller’s Title and Opinion of Title
- Review of Offer to Purchase
- Drafting, negotiation and finalization of Purchase and Sales Agreement
- Closing Document preparation (deed, trustee certificate, release of homestead)
- Obtaining seller’s closing documents (6D certificate, payoff statements)
- Assist in the coordination of the closing and representation at the closing
- Limited Power of Attorney
- Attend the Closing & review all closing documents and explain their meaning and significance to the seller
Your Realtor will be involved with most of these steps as well, but does not replace the need for an attorney. For a cost that is typically in the $800-$1300 range (depending on the attorney), it is well worth the peace of mind of having these important issues handled by a legal professional.
If you are thinking of selling your home, you should engage an attorney as early in the process as possible so that he or she can conduct an initial title search to be sure no unexpected problems arise that could result in a lengthy delay after you find a buyer. Your Realtor should be able to recommend a good real estate attorney. If you don’t have one, it would be my privilege to assist you in the sale of your Cape Cod home. Please contact me to get started.
* List of services courtesy of Cape Cod Title and Escrow.