Buyers, Sellers, Agents, Attorneys: The Perfect Real Estate Team

By: Gina L. Campanella, Esq., FACHE

A home is often the biggest purchase and investment one will make in his or her entire life, which is why many potential buyers are typically, and understandably, anxious about a process that can appear overwhelming, unfamiliar and counterintuitive at times.  Likewise, sellers are occupied with worry wondering if their investment will pay off.  Surrounding oneself with a knowledgeable team of professionals who handle such transactions on a regular, even daily, basis is a critical step a buyer or seller can, and should, take to alleviate many of these concerns.  Many potential buyers and sellers find the need for a real estate agent clear, but often do not understand why having an experienced attorney lined up and ready to go is equally as important.


Your real estate attorney’s most important immediate function is to make sure that the contract you sign to buy or sell reflects the true terms of the deal.  In New Jersey, a Statewide New Jersey Realtors® Standard Form of Real Estate Sales Contract was introduced and made mandatory for all New Jersey residential real estate transactions beginning September 2016.  Once the buyer and seller sign this contract, both parties have only three days to find and hire an attorney and negotiate any changes they want to that contract.  Some important language that is not included in the standard contract and must be added, if applicable to the transaction, during the attorney review process includes; buyer’s property sale contingencies, seller concessions, any provisions applicable to a condominium or homeowner’s association, any special loan provisions regarding the use of FHA or VA loans and more.  The three-day period for attorney review starts running the moment the last party to the contract signs.  In consideration of this tight timeline, I recommend potential buyers and sellers begin interviewing counsel well before they have a potential contract in place.  This allows the buyer or seller the piece of mind of knowing they have an attorney on deck and all they need to do is fax her the contract to begin review as soon as it is signed.


Once the attorney review period is over, your attorney will continue to be involved in all aspects of the transaction to make sure everything is going smoothly and in accordance with the agreed upon contract terms.  For example, the attorney will negotiate any demand for repair that may result from inspections and will review the title report generated by the title company to ensure there are no liens or other encumbrances on the property that need to be addressed prior to closing.  She should work in solidarity with you and your agent, as an advocate for you, to make sure everything that should be happening is happening and nothing interferes with the ultimate goal of all parties:  a happy closing!

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