Technology is changing the face of the legal industry for both clients and attorneys. British programmer Joshua Browder created DoNotPay, which reportedly lead to $3 million worth of successfully appealed parking tickets. TypeLaw advertises itself as a way to “instantly update your citation, build your tables and format your briefs.” Lex Machina claims to help lawyers “win lawsuits” and “pitch and land new clients” using data mining to predict the behavior of judges and other lawyers, courtesy of Stanford’s Law School and Computer Science department. And this is all without the help of CEO Andrew Arruda’s ROSS, “the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney.”
The real estate industry is also getting a bit of a technological makeover with the creation of OpenDoor. In the latter case, the website pitches itself as a way to sell a home without worrying about the “hassle of listing, showings and months of uncertainty.” Property owners can tell OpenDoor about their home(s); receive an offer on the home (based on comparative market analysis); allow an independent, third-party inspector to verify the home’s appearance and condition in person; choose a move-out date three to 60 days from the selling date; and let the company handle the rest. Buyers would follow a similar process to invest in a home, including access to the home. And so far, the company has been reasonably successful, pulling in over $210 million by flipping homes.
Recommended Reading: “Investing in real estate: Is it better to buy a flipped house or directly from last owner?”
There’s no disputing that technology is making things faster, (sometimes) easier and more convenient overall.
However, there are pros and cons. Anyone who has ever had to make a business call that resulted in screaming into the phone and jamming the zero button for an operator knows how valuable human appeal is. Frequently Asked Questions don’t always apply, so some of those auto-replied answers won’t work trying to figure things out online.
However, playing Devil’s advocate here, there are times when an email, a text, an FAQ response or a live chat can do the trick. But not always. And in the case of real estate, regardless of how handy technology may be, speaking with a real estate lawyer will come in handy regardless.
For new owners, including millennials, who are still trying to figure out the process of purchasing a home, speaking with a real estate lawyer may be helpful as a guide. For the more experienced homeowner, there just may be real estate conundrums they run into with one buyer versus another. Throw in an appraiser and a real estate agent, and straight across the board, the human aspect of having a real estate lawyer will matter.
Here are the top five things to prepare and keep in mind when working with a real estate lawyer.
Be honest: If you’ve ever searched for something online and cannot get the correct results, it may be that you’re not including all of the necessary keywords. A real estate lawyer is the same way. (S)he cannot effectively represent you if you withhold information that is critical to the transaction. A homeowner may not be able to finalize a closing on a new home until the old home sells. When a real estate attorney knows this upfront, then that lawyer can negotiate a longer closing time to allow the homeowner to sell the old home.
Communication is key: Be very clear and inform the attorney what the homeowner would like to accomplish with the transaction. For example, is the home being sold to avoid foreclosure? This is important for an attorney to know because the purchase price agreed to by the parties may not be enough to pay off the outstanding mortgage. Then the attorney will have to contact the seller’s lender to negotiate a short sale.
Most things are negotiable: The initial terms a buyer and seller agree to in the purchase agreement can be modified. Let’s say a buyer initially offers $100,000 for the house. Later, a property inspection shows the home needs $10,000 in repairs. The buyer and seller can renegotiate the purchase price to $90,000 to factor in the needed repairs.
There are many moving parts: A real estate attorney has to manage multiple moving parts to ensure everything lines up by closing day. The real estate lawyer has to: 1) make sure the seller provided the buyer a survey before closing, 2) order the title commitment, 3) work with a buyer’s lender to make sure the transaction can be funded by the agreed upon closing date and several other details of the transaction.
Details, details, details: Real estate closings involve a lot of paperwork that an attorney has to review or draft for a real estate closing. A buyer, seller and/or investor will want to make sure the chosen attorney is detailed oriented.
Have more questions about real estate closings? Contact J. Paye & Associates today.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn contributed to this blog. Find out more about her at Shamontiel.com.
The information contained here is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered but should not be construed as one-size-fits-all legal advice. Speak to an attorney specifically about your contractual agreement for specific terms and conditions.