When Home Buyers Do and Don’t Need a Lawyer

I was recently asked for help determining when Home Buyers should consult with an experienced Real Estate lawyer.


  • This involves analyzing two things: complexity and risk. The more complex a deal is, the more likely it is that an experienced Real Estate lawyer can be an asset in getting the deal done.
  • If there is the foreseeable risk of an expensive event (such as personal injury) occurring, this also argues for involving a lawyer.
  • If a Buyer reasonably concludes a deal isn’t too complex and presents a low risk of an expensive event, then the Buyer won’t need a lawyer. The Buyer can always consult with a lawyer if something does happen.

Does the Buyer Need a Lawyer? Probably Not.

An example of when the Buyer probably doesn’t need a lawyer: the simple purchase and sale of a modest single-family home in a suburban neighborhood, where both parties are guided by competent real estate agents.

Does the Buyer Need a Lawyer? Definitely Yes.

A Home Buyer DOES Need a Lawyer when the Buyer has questions about the law. A real estate agent is not permitted to answer such questions unless s/he is also a lawyer actively licensed to practice law in the applicable state.

Does the Buyer Need a Lawyer? Probably Yes.

A Buyer will very likely want a lawyer when:

1. The Buyer and the Seller have signed a purchase & sale agreement, and the preliminary title report contains exceptions that cause the Buyer to have serious doubts about whether to close.

2. The Buyer knows or suspects there are hazardous materials on the property, such as in a gasoline tank buried in the yard.

3. The Seller discloses that the basement is being rented by a third party who wants to keep renting it after closing.

4. The Buyer is purchasing a house on 60 acres of farmland, a tenant farmer is farming half the land, and there is an oil & gas lease affecting the land.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have questions.

Michael S. Oswald
Admitted to practice law in CA, CO (inactive), and ID.

Please note: the above post contains educational information. It is not intended as legal advice. Engage an attorney who is licensed in your state to get advice on dealing with any specific legal issue.

© 2017 Michael S. Oswald

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