Real Estate FAQs

What’s the difference between a Realtor/Real Estate Agent and a Real Estate Lawyer?

Realtors and Agents are professionals who assist people in buying and selling real estate. They help sellers market their properties, using advertising, open houses, and special multiple-listing services to give the property the widest exposure, and therefore a better chance of selling it. They help buyers because they have access to the special multiple-listing services, and therefore know about all the properties available, and about the features of the properties. They can narrow down the field to each buyer’s needs, so that the buyer isn’t looking at lots of properties that won’t suit the buyer. Back to index

Real Estate Lawyers are lawyers who concentrate on the legal issues involved in real estate. They counsel buyers and sellers, lenders, landlords and tenants, by drawing up contracts, or making changes to contracts, that will protect the interest of the client, provide for what the client expects from the transactions, and warn the client about the pitfalls of the transaction. Unless lawyers are also Realtors, they do not generally have access to to the listing services and do not identify and show properties to clients.

So do I need a Realtor or a Lawyer if I’m buying/selling a house?

You need both. The Realtor will help you find the house or find the buyer for your house, and the lawyer will help with your contract, and your preparations for closing or settlement [this includes ordering and reviewing title insurance, a survey, if needed, and assisting you with getting your mortgage, if you are the buyer] and will represent you at the settlement. The Realtor provides other services to the buyer or seller after the contract has been signed, such as assisting with inspections, getting the certifications that are required by law for the sale of a house, etc.

Can buyers and sellers agree without the involvement of a Realtor?

Yes, some sellers market their properties without Realtors’ assistance. Once a buyer is found, it is really essential for the Seller to have a Real Estate Lawyer involved to prepare the contract and make sure that conditions are met and that the seller is fully prepared to go to settlement. The Buyer should also be represented by a Real Estate Lawyer to protect the buyer’s interest and help the buyer prepare for settlement.

How should I prepare for my settlement?

Even with a lawyer representing you, there are steps you should take if you are a buyer or if you are a seller.