Buying a Home in NJ: Why You Need an Attorney


Purchasing a home is a huge accomplishment in life, and one that is fraught with a million and one ways to confuse you. Signing a real estate contract is often jokingly referred to as ‘signing your life away.’ That’s because of the mountainous piles of paperwork you’ll have to read through (and preferably understand) before signing on the dotted lines.  Yes, you read that right: lineS. During the closing meeting, wherein the property officially becomes yours, you’ll be prompted to put your John Hancock on a veritable myriad of contract papers.

While it’s true that your real estate agent can often act as an intermediary during the informal phase of negotiations, once your transaction edges closer and closer to being a formal written agreement, there are a number of reasons why working with a real estate attorney is in your best interest.

For example, many realtors use cookie cutter paperwork that doesn’t address any number of legal problems that may pop up. Because of this, issues may arise that end up costing you many thousands of dollars – significantly more than the cost of retaining an attorney to assist you.

During a real estate transaction wherein you are the buyer, your attorney can negotiate for you prior to the existence of a contract. Once you are satisfied with the terms and a contract is drawn up, your real estate lawyer will be able to review all of the contract paperwork to ensure that all of your concerns are met.

Additionally, working with a real estate attorney in New Jersey means that all state laws will be followed during the purchase of your home. One such law exists that many New Jersey home buyers aren’t aware of.

The Attorney Review Clause

This is a 72 hour/three (3) day period of time that starts the day after the real estate contract has been signed by both the seller and the buyer. Weekends are not included in the 72 hour time period. During the Attorney Review, both parties are encouraged to seek out a New Jersey attorney who is experienced in real estate contracts.

The attorneys’ review of the contract must be completed within the three (3) day time frame, HOWEVER, if either party’s attorney notifies the realtor(s) of changes to be made to the contract, the review period is extended until such time as the buyer and the seller can come to an agreement.

If your NJ real estate attorney decides that there are fatal flaws in the contract, you are able to “cancel” or “get out of” the contract, and it thereby becomes null and void. Hence, the Attorney Review period is also referred to as the Escape Clause.

The Title Search

Along with reviewing your real estate contract for flaws and errors during the review period, your attorney and his staff are also equipped to perform a title search on the property that you wish to purchase. Title searches are done in order to prove that there aren’t any liens or judgments against the home you wish to buy. The outcome of the title search is crucial because it ultimately reveals whether the seller really has ownership rights of the property and can legally sell it to you.

A real estate broker can perform a title search for you, but a real estate attorney can accomplish a search much more quickly and more affordably due to working closely with title companies on a regular basis.

If there are any liens or encumbrances on the property in question, your attorney can negotiate with the seller and can even guide him or her in the right legal direction to ensure that all liens are taken care of before proceeding.

For these reasons and more, working with legal counsel during a real estate transaction is just the smart way to go. You may be surprised by how affordable a NJ attorney’s services are when compared with the amount of money you could potentially stand to lose in a real estate transaction that goes awry.

Image credit: Jenni C

7 Responses to Buying a Home in NJ: Why You Need an Attorney

  1. Pingback: Buying, Selling and Keeping Your NJ Home | Veitengruber Law

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