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How to Know if You Need a Real Estate Lawyer

How to Know if You Need a Real Estate Lawyer

“Do I need a real estate lawyer” is a question we hear often at JJH Law. While the answer can sometimes be complicated, for most individuals or businesses investing in commercial real estate the answer is a resounding “YES.”

In this month’s post, we’ll go over:

  • The difference between a real estate lawyer and a real estate broker
  • What real estate lawyers bring to the table
  • Real estate scenarios that always require a real estate attorney


If you have any questions about whether you need a real estate lawyer, or just want to get started on a consultation, give our Portland office a call at (503) 552-1467.


What’s The Difference Between A Real Estate Attorney and A Real Estate Broker?


The first thing most people do when buying or selling Portland area commercial property is call a real estate broker. While real estate brokers can be invaluable when buying or selling a property, they perform fundamentally different tasks than a real estate lawyer.

A real estate broker’s job is to either find people to buy your property, or find a property for you to buy at the best price possible.

A real estate lawyer’s job is to:

  • Ensure your interests are protected in a real estate transaction or lease agreement
  • Articulate contact terms so you understand what you are agreeing to
  • Negotiate or offer solutions on your behalf


A significant difference between a real estate broker and a real estate lawyer is how they make their money.

A broker is only paid when a sale goes through, giving them an incentive to push the sale even if it isn’t in your best interest.

A real estate lawyer, on the other hand, is paid a set fee unrelated to the sale of the property. Their priority is your best interests, not simply trying to close the deal.

Have someone on your side who believes in professional ethics and will always be working towards the best possible result for you.


How Can a Real Estate Lawyer Help?


Making Sure Everything Checks Out

Often, sellers and buyers have good intentions, but issues with titles or permits may not check out.

Real estate lawyers know what to look for to ensure that everything is above board. They’ll ensure deeds are transferred properly, the title search goes smoothly, and help resolve and protect you solve any last minute hiccups during the closing.

Real estate lawyers bring a necessary level of review and security to any real estate deal.


Reviewing Agreements

When buying or selling a property, there’s going to be a lot of paperwork, including brokerage agreements and purchasing agreements.

Often, this paperwork is standard and won’t have any issues. However, these agreements can on occasion be drafted against your interest (or even illegally). Real estate lawyers will review, negotiate, make edits to, and draft these agreements on your behalf to ensure the agreements are crafted in your favor.


Reviewing Leases

Once you have closed on your commercial property, you may be leasing out the space to tenants. These agreements will need to be reviewed to make sure you are covered.

Real estate lawyers specialize in lease review and can make sure your investment is protected in the case of:

  • Injury
  • Eviction
  • Property damages
  • Trouble with the law
  • Accusations against tenant bias


Explaining Tax Benefits

Buying or selling a commercial property is a massive financial transaction that will always have an effect on your financial portfolio and your tax liability.

Having an experienced real estate lawyer on your side means you’ll be able to move forward with a transaction knowing the complete post-closing financial picture.


When Do I Need A Real Estate Lawyer?


Put simply: Anyone buying or selling commercial property needs a real estate attorney.

Even the most seasoned of real estate professionals are sure to consult real estate lawyers, and failing to have an experienced attorney review your deal can lead to catastrophe.

There are particular situations, however, when having an experienced real estate lawyer by your side is crucial.


A Property In Non-Ideal Conditions

When buying or selling a commercial property that’s severely damaged, extra care is required to ensure you’re covered in case of cold feet, further damage, or injury.

It’s against the law to not disclose severe property damages before a property is sold. If a buyer feels they’ve been misled, they can sue the seller, claiming they were not told about the issue. If a judge finds that you knowingly misled them, you’ll be liable for damages.

Particularly with major issues that require substantial renovations from the seller, you’ll want a lawyer to ensure the purchase agreement and disclosure forms include the proper language.


Complicated Terms

Similarly, if there are any unique conditions in the sale of property, a real estate lawyer is needed.

For instance, if you are selling only a piece of your property, you will need to be sure that everything is square with the splitting of the property. You’ll need to ensure.

  • Property split fits within the local zoning codes
  • Titles are adjusted accurately and correctly
  • Environmental issues are taken care of
  • Access to resources like driveways and parking is covered in the contract


Attorneys know what to look for and have experience navigating more complicated real estate issues.


You Are an Out of Town Buyer

Buying a commercial property is hard enough when you’ve lived in the city or state you’re buying in. When you’re trying to purchase a property from outside of the are, hiring an attorney can help protect you from conditions you may not even know exist.


You Are Buying A Property As An Investment

Commercial and rental properties offer their own unique set of of opportunities and challenges. Before investing, you need to have a clear understanding of what you are getting yourself into.

You’ll want to make sure your space is zoned correctly. You may need to know if it’s even legal to rent out or develop. Experienced real estate attorneys help you work through all these issues and can help you make a sound decision on your investment.


Do You Need an Experienced Attorney for Your Portland Real Estate Transaction?

JJH Law specializes in commercial real estate law and can help you work through your commercial real estate property transaction or leasing process. We’ll make sure you are covered, and advocate and negotiate for the best deal possible for you.

Contact us at (503) 552-1467 to schedule a consultation today.

Joseph Haddad

Joseph is a business lawyer and founder of JJH Law. He focuses on complex civil litigation with an emphasis on employment-related matters on behalf of employers and employees. He's also an avid card player, and in 2006 was ranked #118 in the world by CardPlayer Magazine.

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