What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do for a Seller?

Real Estate Attorney

Whenever a real estate transaction is closed, the role of a real estate attorney can be significant. It saves the seller from legal problems and other liabilities. Although in Virginia, real estate attorneys are not necessarily part of the sale process, however their involvement is always advised. Because unforeseen legal complications may rise, at the point of sale process to closing. A lawyer’s role will save your time and investment.

Real estate attorneys OR real estate lawyers have qualification and experience to settle property related legal issues between the seller and the buyer. They guide their clients about state and local jurisdictions. Plus help your real estate agent to negotiate the sale transaction.

FYI: A real estate lawyer can represent a buyer or a seller but not both at the same time due to the conflict of interest that presents.

How is the role of a Real Estate Attorney important?

A real estate attorney is a lawyer. They are licensed to practice real estate law. They have knowledge, and expertise about the legalities and issues in the real estate arena. In the USA, Some state real estate laws demand the involvement of an attorney in the selling process of a property.

What does a Real Estate Attorney do?

The involvement of an attorney can help the sale process of a property in the following or more areas: 

  • Contract drafting, reviewing and translating the information for a layman
  • Representing the client in the process, and at deal closing (payment process)
  • Making reports about house inspection 
  • Educating the client about their legal rights as buyers or sellers
  • To Resolve Title Issues or title search 
  • Deed and title transfers
  • Price negotiations and Assistance with Financing Arrangements
  • Prevention and Resolution of Transactional issues 

The list of duties mentioned above is not an exhaustive one, because it goes on and on. So it’s safe to say that, although not a mandatory one, the role of an attorney saves you legal pain. 

Qualification a Real Estate Attorney


The qualification process and criteria of A real estate attorney is the same almost in all the states. One has to have a law degree. It consists of three-year, full time, studying in a recognized institute. Then, comes passing the state bar exam. This exam is administered by the state where the attorney practices.

After completion of the law degree, the attorney has to start training through internships. The training specialization comes with their choice of electives. Next they join real estate firms and after required experience may start their private practice.

Many continue with additional certifications and diplomas. Some have higher qualifications on their profile, some have more accolades, some more experience. Real estate attorneys must be licensed to practice in the state they are working.

They are expected to be ahead of any state or local developments that could influence the transaction. Normally, from a layman’s perspective, a successful attorney has more successfully closed deals in his pocket.

Responsibilities a Real Estate Attorney

The role and responsibilities of an attorney may differ in each transaction, and with every  client, as per the client’s demand.

Here are some important mentions about their standard role: 

  • Your attorney not only prepares but also reviews the legal documents of your property on sale. These include, but are not limited to:  mortgage documents, title documents, and transfer documents and purchase agreement. They are responsible for any errors or omission of information in the documents. 
  • As per request, your attorney will write title insurance policies. Next they will do title searches on the property. This helps with funds transfer for the purchase. The attorney is also responsible for paperwork such as the federal HUD-1 Form and other related documentation for the client.
  • They are present at the closing date of the transaction. This ensures that money payment and title transfer is legal, to protect their client’s interest. 
  • If any dispute arises, like a chain of title, or any contractual issues, or lot line problems, it’s the attorney’s responsibility to solve these. 
  • If in the future, a dispute reaches the court, your attorney will legally represent you in the court of law. 

Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Attorney

There are various reasons for you to hire a real estate attorney, including but not limited to:

  • Expertise: A real estate attorney can provide the in-depth expertise to bring your sale transaction to a successful completion.
  • Experience: They can offer valuable experience that protects your interests during negotiations and when sealing the deal.
  • Knowledge: They understand the legalities of real estate issues such as contracts and amendments to contracts.
  • Ideas: A real estate attorney with informed experience and cumulative knowledge can offer alternative solutions to the problems that you may face.
  • Guidance: They will provide the guidance you require to understand and complete complicated and important transactions with confidence.
  • Representation: A real estate attorney can represent you when you feel ill-equipped to handle a transaction on your own. This can mean less stress, less effort, and more confidence for you.

How Real Estate Attorneys Charge?


Your attorney can charge you in a number of ways as per your and their convenience. Some of the frequently followed payment methods are as below:

  • Hourly fees: One most known payment method. But the rates vary based on the lawyer’s experience, state they are working in, your property’s legal scenario and other related factors. 
  • Flat Fees: Normally this is kind of an upfront payment for services like drafting contracts, reviewing documents, or representing clients at a closing.
  • Contingency Fees: This payment method is followed in cases with state litigation or property disputes. Your attorneys may agree to work on a contingency fee basis. If there is a successful outcome for the client, the attorney gets paid. The payment is a percentage of the amount recovered on behalf of the client. If the case is unsuccessful, the attorney does not receive payment for their services.
  • Retainers: This is basically a retainer fee  paid upfront upfront as per a particular attorney’s demand. The fees are submitted into a trust account as prepayment for legal services. The fee is charged only once the attorney has given the required legal services. The fees accumulate over time, based on additional services rendered by the attorney. So the client will be obliged to pay accordingly. 
  • Hybrid Billing Arrangements: A particular fee payment scenario where your attorneys offer hybrid billing arrangements. It is basically all fees charged  at once for all services now and then. 
  • Expenses and Disbursements: Other than legal fees, clients may be asked to pay for any out-of-pocket expenses. It could be transportation or commuting costs, hotel stay costs or others. These could also be filing fees, court costs, document retrieval fees, and more.

How to find a real estate attorney/lawyer?

There are hundreds and hundreds of attorneys to be reached out at Virginia Bar. But you have to know which is the best and most reputable. This leads to the question, ‘who is a reputable real estate attorney?’ The one who has more number of successful deals closed, Next, do your work to reach them by:

  • Search over internet 
  • Reach out local legal firms 
  • Better ask for an attorney from a long-standing law firm
  • Go for attorneys that are ranked higher 
  • Look for number of closing deals on their profile
  • The licensing, and awards’ giving institutes name can matter too 

The Bottom Line

A real estate attorney is a lawyer with extensive knowledge of real estate law and expertise. Their role is important to represent clients in real estate transactions. Although not all States in the USA, bind you law, to keep an attorney at the sale closing. But, until and unless, you do not have confirmed knowledge about the legalities of the real estate, you may take guidance from an attorney. 

If you’re selling or buying a property in Virginia, HR Property Doctor can help you with consultation and the process.  If you need guidance with the closing process, contracts, negotiations or legal action, then our  real estate attorneys can help.

We’ll guide not only you through the process, but  ensure your rights are protected. Our  real estate attorneys  coordinate, prepare and complete documents related to the title, deed, transfer, and financial acquisition.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a reputable local house-buying professional, also a real estate agent (Virginia). Count on his nearly fifteen (15) years of expertise in being part of resolving any issues that may threaten transactions, being accessible, and answering questions, as well as remaining transparent throughout closing transactions. One of Paul's Favorite Quotes: "To Give Anything Less Than Your Best Is To Sacrifice the Gift."

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