Use A Real Estate Attorney On Your Next Transaction
As licensed Real Estate Professionals, licensed Attorneys, and business owners, we understand the real estate and business markets. We have the experience and knowhow to guide you through the complex regulatory environment that comes with acquiring your property and starting and growing your business. In founding Equity Legal, our aim was to create one office that will listen to your goals and needs to help you identify your equity, structure your transaction to best realize your equity, and address the possible pitfalls of your real estate and business transactions to protect your equity.
Our practice has historically included transactional and litigation matters such as the purchase or sale of commercial properties, residential properties, drafting easements, and filing lawsuits concerning breach of contract, boundary disputes, and title insurance claims.
We are dedicated to providing high quality, cost-effective legal representation to our clients dealing with commercial and other real estate. To that end, we launched Equity Realty, a real estate brokerage that works in collaboration with our law firm. Together, Equity Realty and Equity Legal are able to provide comprehensive representation to both buyers and sellers.
Duties To Clients
First, by law, the duties owed by real estate agents to their clients are limited. These limited duties allow them significant leeway regarding their obligations to any client. For example, an agent can represent both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction, even though the interests of the buyer differ from those of the seller (the buyer wants the lowest price possible, while the seller wants the highest). Moreover, an agent is not prohibited from “self-dealing.” In other words, an agent can both represent the seller and be the buyer of the property. Both dual agency and self-dealing can put a client in a very compromised position.
In contrast, lawyers have clear and unequivocal duties to their clients. These duties cannot be compromised by the attorney’s obligation to another client or even by the attorney’s own self-interest. In a typical arms-length transaction, an attorney cannot represent both the buyer and the seller. Similarly, if an attorney has been hired by a seller to assist with the sale, the attorney cannot buy the property. The clients’ interests must be paramount, without any question or doubt. Anything less means that you are not getting the best representation possible. Attorneys are required by law to provide it, while agents are not.
As Real Estate Attorneys We Offer The follow Services On your Brokerage Transactions
Second, real estate agents are only authorized to engage in the limited practice of law. This means that agents are limited by law to filling in pre-printed forms that were drafted and approved by a lawyer. Agents are not supposed to provide legal counsel to a client. In other words, they are neither authorized nor trained to explain the terms of the contract.
Lawyers, on the other hand, are specifically trained and authorized to practice law without limitation. If you have a unique issue in your deal and want it addressed in a contract, your agent may not be legally authorized or trained to draft an appropriate contract term to protect your interests. Have a question about the terms of your contract? A lawyer can answer it. Concerned about an issue or aspect of the transaction? A lawyer can deal with it. Worried about whether there is a defect in title? A lawyer can find out and, if there is, address it.
Third, agents are typically paid by commission. This commission is paid only if the transaction closes. If it does not close, the agents do not get paid for their services. This obviously gives an agent a strong personal incentive to convince the parties to close, even though closing may not be in the clients’ best interests (they could have changed their mind, or there could be an issue with the property). In addition, commissions can vary based on the terms of the offer or other factors, and an agent may not have a duty to inform the client about these variations. For example, some sellers offer an extra commission to any buyer’s agent who presents a full price offer. The buyer’s agent may not have an obligation to inform his clients about this extra personal incentive.
In contrast, lawyers have the flexibility to structure the transaction in the best interest of our clients. We can charge a flat fee for our standard brokerage services, a flat fee for our legal services via our law firm, plus additional fees for additional brokerage services or have hybrid flat fee/commission structure based on our client’s needs and goals.
If it turns out that closing is not in your best interests (because you changed your mind, or because there is some late-discovered issue with the property), we have no incentive to convince you to close. Want to cancel the deal? No problem – we are here to serve your needs.
Using A Real Estate Lawyer vs. Real Estate Broker
Real estate brokers are unique. They have their own professional skill set: Marketing and identifying properties, and assessing their current and likely future value, which we as your Attorney/Broker can also do.
Otherwise, everything else – drafting an offer, negotiating the contract, renegotiating the contract after an inspection, reviewing title, approving closing documents – is the practice of law, best done by an attorney.
The conclusion is clear: the limited needs that a broker can provide can also be provided by Equity Realty. However, in addition to those broker services, Equity Legal also provides you with quality services that a skilled and experienced attorney is far more qualified to provide. Best of all, an attorney costs a whole lot less. So you can save money, and get better service too.
Service Practice Areas
- Purchases, sales and leasing
- Representation of buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants
- Private party transactions
- Family transactions / Propositions 58 and 193 (selling or gifting to children, grandchildren, etc.)
- For sale by owner assistance
- 1031 Exchanges
- Consultation services
- Document review and revision
- Ownership agreements, buy-out agreements, joint venture agreements, Lease agreements, option agreements
- Formation of LLC(s) to hold and manage real estate
- Deeds of Trust, Promissory Notes and other investor, seller or family financing
- Specific Performance claims / enforcement of purchase agreements
- Easement Agreements
- Fence and monument disputes / enforcement of California’s “Good Neighbor Fence Act”
- Neighbor disputes
- Construction contracting / construction disputes
- Additional real property matters
Using A Real Estate Attorney On Your Next Property Transaction Is A Wise Decision.
When you use a real estate attorney on your property transaction you are getting the benefit of legal protection and expertise, as well as having your property sold all under one roof. We help move transactions through and can answer any legal questions real time.