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Do I need a Real Estate Attorney to Purchase a House in Pennsylvania

Purchasing or selling a house is one of the most important decisions a person will make.  Most people will use a real estate agent when buying or selling their home and will rely on their expertise to guide them through the transaction. 

Purchasing or selling a house is one of the most important decisions a person will make.  Most people will use a real estate agent when buying or selling their home and will rely on their expertise to guide them through the transaction.  A real estate agent may caution you against hiring an attorney or may simply say it isn’t necessary, however, there are a few reasons that a real estate attorney can be essential in any real estate transaction.

  1. Making sense of legal documents.  Real estate agents in Pennsylvania almost always use the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors forms which were prepared by attorneys on behalf of the Realtor’s Association as a “neutral” form that is supposed to be fair to both buyers and sellers and cover most common scenarios.  Realtors, however, are not experts in many of the unique situations that can arise such as real estate tax liens, easements or rights of way issues, zoning or ordinance issues, just to name a few.  A real estate attorney can review any of the documents that come up when making an offer or preparing for closing and make sure you understand and are protected.
  2. Out of Town Buyers. If you are out of town and are not familiar with the customs or practices in Pennsylvania, it may be advisable to hire a real estate attorney to guide you through the process and make sure that nothing is missed or overlooked.
  3. Unique Properties. No two homes are ever alike and there are some properties that are truly unique.  Horse farms, historic homes, properties with significant land, and new construction can have special circumstances that require legal review.
  4. Alterations to the Property or Changes in Use. If you are planning a large change to the property such as the addition of a structure, complete renovation, subdivision, or conversation to/from commercial use, there are many legal hurdles to jump through and an attorney is essential to navigate the process and make sure you don’t end up with a property that you can’t use as intended.
  5. Title Insurance. In Pennsylvania, almost all lenders will require you to purchase title insurance to protect the lender’s investment.  Even if there is no lender involved, title insurance is always recommended to make sure there are no legal problems (‘title defects’) that could jeopardize your ownership down the road.  Many attorneys and law firms (including our firm, Cherewka Law) offer title insurance through a title insurance agency associated with their firm and can provide the title policy as well as the added advantage of an attorney’s review of your deal.

If you are considering a purchase or sale and have questions about the process or are unsure about whether or not legal representation is needed, contact our attorneys at Cherewka Law to set up an initial consultation.  (717) 232-4701.

Sep 16, 2021 | Articles, Real Estate

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