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Buying a home? Consult with an attorney to for ease of mind

A recent homebuyer's guide recommended consulting with an attorney before closing on a real estate deal. That advice should be heeded for several reasons.

An attorney can review a purchase agreement for potential legal consequences. Often, a seller and/or the seller's agent might use a standardized form with fine print. Yet boilerplate language may fail to address unique issues that may arise when a buyer has plans to renovate the property, or a home inspection reveals hidden defects. Most importantly, an attorney can review the agreement's provisions to ensure that it is subject to a buyer's ability to obtain financing. 

An attorney can also review the mortgage loan documents, which can be even more complex. In searching for favorable financing, a typical first step is to evaluate a prospective buyer's credit rating. Those who score below 600 might have limited options, save for a subprime mortgage. Yet that type of mortgage arrangement can be a risky proposition, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated. An attorney that focuses on residential real estate might have strategies for helping individuals build up their credit. With a higher credit score, an individual might qualify for better borrowing options, such as a conventional mortgage. 

However, an attorney might caution that there may remain a discrepancy between the lending offer and an individual's realistic budget. Cutting it close can come with serious consequences, as a few late mortgage payments might put a homeowner at risk for foreclosure. A residential real estate attorney can help buyers at all stages of the transaction, from negotiating the purchase agreement terms to the closing. 

Source:, "Buying Your First Home," Kristin McFarland, Feb. 11, 2015

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