My Agent Told Me Nobody Hires An Attorney to Purchase or Sell a Home. Is That True?

No. Many people hire an attorney to represent them in the purchase or sale of a home. In fact, this practice is quite common throughout the United States. Our office regularly represents clients buying or selling a residential property.

A number of states even mandate that an attorney be hired for at least part of the process. Even if you live in a state, like Missouri, where attorneys are not required by law, you certainly have the right to hire one to protect yourself, and to do so is in your best interst.

It is against the law in Missouri for a real estate agent or broker to dissuade you from hiring an attorney. (See Missouri Secretary of State: Code of State Regulations – 20 C.S.R. 2250-8.110(3)). Further, the standard  residential contract your agent or broker helps you complete says on the first page “If you do not understand everything in this contract, then you should consult an attorney,” or something similar depending upon which version they use. It should certainly be a big red flag if your agent does, or says anything, to indicate that you do not need an attorney.

Because it is not customary in St. Louis to hire one’s own attorney, many agents have either not had experience working with an attorney or had a negative experience. Sometimes a lawyer is brought in only when things start to go sour between the buyer and seller. At that point, it is a litigator who is hired. When the deal falls apart despite the agent’s hard work, they lose their commission, and blame the lawyer.

However, the situation is much different when a transactional lawyer is brought in at the beginning of deal. Agents who have experienced this situation better understand the added value and protection a lawyer brings them and their clients. These lawyers facilitate getting the deal done from contract to closing, and in the client’s best interest.

In 2011, the New York Times published an article on the desirability of hiring a lawyer, and the pitfalls associated with not doing so: The Case for Hiring a Lawyer .

Even the National Association of Realtors® agrees that hiring a lawyer for home sales or purchases is often in the client’s best interest.  See their response here. As does Nolo.

If you would like to hire a lawyer for the sale or purchase of a home, please contact our office at 314.862.2237

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