What to do when selling real estate – use an attorney or a realtor?

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What to do when selling real estate – use an attorney or a realtor?

We have a Durable Power of Attorney for my father-in-law’s condo. While fixing it up to sell it we have been approached by 3 different neighbors interested in buying it before we even list with a realtor. One advised using a real estate attorney vs. a realtor. What services can I expect from an attorney and how much would they charge? A flat fee or per hour?

Asked on January 14, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Real estate attorneys and realtors do *very* different  things.

A realtor's primary job is to market and sell the property. That's not  to say that the realtor might not have a standard of form of contract they use or have some legal knowledge, but fundamentally, a realtor is a salesperson.

An attorney job is to structure a deal in a way that maximizes benefit to his client, review the proposed transaction for risk, resolve any overhanding legal problems, and draft legal documents. While an attorney may have some ability to help sell or market the property--such as if he has other clients or connections who purchase similar property--the lawyer's main job is the law, not the sale.

If you already have people you think are likely to offer you a reasonable price, then yes, a lawyer may be better for you--the lawyer can negotiate the deal, draft the agreement of sale, work on the closing, and help with any legal issues (such as if the community or condo association has a lien for unpaid fees); with several possible buyers in hand, you may not need a realtor's marketing/sales  help.

There is no way to generalize what, or how (i.e. flat fee or hourly rate) an attorney will charge--there  is no standard, and attorneys vary widely in their rates and charges. The best idea is to shop around for a lawyer--there is no reason why you can't ask prospective lawyers their fees or negotiate fees with attorneys.


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