Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Overlooked Occupation: Attorneys in Real Estate

By: Moses Menchaca

            Today many Americans fail to realize the long process of purchasing a home. The concept of this investment usually only extends from a Realtor, a lender, and a buyer. Other participants in this transaction are overlooked and unappreciated. Arguably one of the most important participants that are overlooked in this process is attorneys. Attorneys are involved in all aspects of purchasing a home. They oversee the mortgage agreement and the purchase of real estate, deal with problems that arise after purchasing real estate, and work with the foreclosure and loss of the investment. These diverse tasks require attorneys to specialize in many different fields. Attorneys involved in real estate can specialize in things such as zoning, agriculture, and even when dealing with eminent domain. “[R]eal estate attorneys, whether they specialize in land use controls, mortgage financing, investments, taxes, or a particular real estate product type, are in the business of helping to turn real estate dreams into reality by executing the details” (Diaz and Hansz 393). Three of the most active attorneys in today’s real estate market are real estate attorneys, construction defect attorneys, and mortgage attorneys. 

            A real estate attorney is needed throughout the process of creating a mortgage and making sure this contract is being executed property. Real estate attorneys are required to wear different hats depending on the current status of purchasing a home. They are required to be technicians, negotiators, and an advisor (Diaz and Hansz 393-394). When creating the contract between the mortgagor and mortgagee, an attorney is required to outline the details extensively. As a negotiator, they strive to get the best benefits for their clients. Real estate attorneys are even required to advise their clients when they feel that an investment is not worth the money. Real estate attorneys are also involved in other aspects of the housing market. Real estate attorneys can be utilized when dealing with, “Easement disputes, injuries, property taxes, neighbor relations, property deeds, different types of mortgages, insurance, and issues related to buying and selling real estate” (FreeAdvice). Real estate attorneys are employed for their knowledge and experience when determining whether purchasing a particular item is a smart investment. In Real Estate Analysis: Environments and Activities it states the primary role of a real estate attorney stating, “[T]he lawyer’s job is to anticipate problems, exposures, and contingencies and then to structure the legal agreement in such a way as to ensure that solutions favoring their clients are available and legally enforceable” (Diaz and Hansz 394).

            When real estate investments experience problems that are legally insured by the developers, construction defect attorneys are contacted. Attorneys at the Shinnick and Ryan law firm are currently working with home owners on a class action lawsuit against their developer. The firm was contacted by homeowners who were concerned about damages in their home. The law firm then hired an expert to inspect homes, and if they determine that there are construction defects in at least some of the homes then they file a construction defect case against the developer. One attorney from this firm mentioned that a major defect that repetitively appears in houses created during the housing boom is poor framework. They say after determining to file the lawsuit, the process takes anywhere from 18 to 30 months. The firm works with the homeowners by having monthly meetings concerning updates on the case, conducting inspections of homes, and gathering documents (Quinn). Construction defect attorneys are becoming more and more popular as many homes experienced loose inspection regulations during the housing boom.
            Attorneys are also involved in the losing of real estate through foreclosures. A mortgage attorney can help because they, “will know local mortgage foreclosure law, and be able to assist you [in finding] a possible defense or provide enough time for you to find a new home” (FreeAdvice). Given the drastic increase in foreclosures the past few years, mortgage attorneys have had to focus primarily on foreclosures. According to, “1 in every 637 housing units received a foreclosure filing in February 2012” ( Mortgage attorneys also play a key role when purchasing real estate by assisting with the mortgage. Mortgage attorneys are also required to know local mortgage law and mortgage documents, helping the buyer obtain what is in their best interest.

            The investment in real estate involves many people and many tasks. Often, people new to the real estate market fail to understand this complex web of connections. People forget about many of the people who are involved in the process of investing in real estate. Most people fail to remember the significance of attorneys throughout the investment process. Attorneys are in every aspect of real estate. They are involved before investing, during investing, and after investing. Attorneys cover a diverse area of real estate and require much specialization when deciding a career path. Real estate attorneys, construction defect attorneys, and mortgage attorneys play pivotal roles in the real estate market. Without the assistance of attorneys, home owners and investors could be taken advantage of by grantors, lessors, and mortgagees. Attorneys act as the referee between those looking to invest in real estate and those looking to sell. An attorney, whom is often overlooked, plays the most pivotal role when dealing with real estate—creating, enforcing, and implementing legally binding contracts between the two parties. 

Works Cited
Ben. The Importance of a Real Estate Attorney in New York. 2011. Photograph. n.p.
Diaz, Julian, and J. Andrew Hansz. Real Estate Analysis, Environments And Activities.
          Dubuque: Kendall Hunt, 2010. 393-395. Print.

February 2012 Foreclosure Rate Heat Map. 2012. Map. RealtyTracWeb. 10 Apr 2012.

Gary Shilling. Residential Mortgages in Foreclosure. 2010. Chart. Businessinsider.comWeb. 10
Apr 2012.

"Mortgage Loan & Foreclosure Law." FreeAdvice. Advice Company, n.d. Web. 10 Apr 2012.

Quinn, Michael T. Personal Interview. 31 Apr 2012.

"Real Estate Law." FreeAdvice. Advice Company, n.d. Web. 10 Apr 2012.

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