No. Pennsylvania does not require you to hire an attorney at any stage of the homebuying process. But, purchasing a house is typically one of the largest transactions a person makes in their lifetime, so having legal advice can save substantial costs and headaches in the long run.
Real estate lawyers are beneficial for first-time buyers to avoid the pitfalls that can happen in a real estate transaction, such as paperwork errors, identifying problems uncovered in a title search or during a home inspection and helping ensure that closing proceeds smoothly.
Key elements of a purchase agreement
The contract is the most critical document for buying a house. While real estate agents play a central role in preparing this agreement, most work with contract templates and are not able to deal with complex transactions. An attorney provides extensive knowledge for several crucial steps, such as:
- Timing: Closing can be affected by many issues outside your control, including the timeline for selling your current home or unexpected lender delays.
- Inspection: Home inspections can uncover many problems with a house where the buyer and seller may have to wrangle over who will pay for the repairs. In some cases, the buyer can withdraw from the contract without penalty.
- Title: A title search can result in finding a lien against the property you’re buying. Your attorney will investigate any potential problems and help to make sure that title insurance protects you.
Also, your attorney will review all closing documents, which even some seasoned homebuyers often find intimidating and confusing, to help make sure that the sale proceeds without a hitch.
Other scenarios when hiring an attorney makes sense
Despite the protection offered in straightforward real estate transactions, lawyers can help buyers or sellers in unusual situations, such as:
- Buying a home in another state
- Selling a house as part of a divorce settlement
- Buying a home through an estate sale, short sale, auction or from a bank
- Selling a home that’s part of a loved one’s estate
- Buying or selling a house with major structural issues or other problems
The bottom line is achieving peace of mind for receiving the best results for one of the most significant transactions you’ll ever make and being prepared when you find the right property in the current red hot real estate market.