What Can Go Wrong In an Attorney Review?

Understanding real estate deals can be tough, especially during the important attorney review phase.

But, what can go wrong in an attorney review?

This step involves checking lots of documents and contracts to make sure they’re legal and good for the client.

But, be careful!

Mistakes can happen, like missing hidden debts or making errors in the contracts.

These problems during the attorney review can cause big legal issues and might even stop the whole deal.

In this article, I’ll talk about important things to be aware of during the attorney review period, helping you as a homebuyer stay informed and confident.

An Image of an Attorney Review
What Can Go Wrong in an Attorney Review? Photo Source (Freepik)

What is an Attorney Review?

During an attorney review, the lawyers for both the buyer and the seller review the contract.

If they need to, they talk to each other to make sure the deal is fair.

This usually takes three business days, and either lawyer can suggest changes to the contract.

The attorney review is important because it makes sure both the buyer and the seller are treated fairly.

Lawyers check everything carefully to make sure it’s all correct.

Even though this usually takes three business days, sometimes important things might come up, and the deadline might need more time.

The Importance of Attorney Review in Real Estate Transactions

The Attorney Review process is really important in real estate deals.

It helps lawyers find and fix possible legal issues early on.

For example, they might catch confusing words in the contract or find hidden debts on the property that weren’t noticed before.

This process also lets everyone talk about more details of the sale, like conditions for inspections or the buyer getting a mortgage.

Basically, it’s a chance to make the contract better and make sure both the buyer and the seller are treated fairly.

Issues Negotiated During the Attorney Review Process

During the attorney review, various important matters are discussed and negotiated between both parties with the assistance of a lawyer.

Some key issues include:

  1. Deposit Due Date: The deadline for paying the deposit.
  2. Scope of Inspection: How extensively you can inspect the property to ensure its good condition.
  3. Mortgage Commitment: The time given to the buyer to secure a mortgage loan.
  4. Funding Contingency: Mortgage contingency after the commitment date and before the closing.
  5. Date of Closing: When the property ownership transfers from seller to buyer.

Additional issues that might be addressed include:

  • Home Sale Contingency: If the buyer needs to sell their current home before buying a new one.
  • Replacement Home Contingency: If the seller needs time to find a new home before moving out.
  • Use and Occupancy Agreement: If the seller needs to stay in the property after closing, an agreement may be signed to cover the buyer’s expenses.

All these matters are resolved during the attorney review to ensure both parties are happy with the contract terms.

Steps Involved in the Attorney Review Process

The Attorney Review process involves these key steps:

  1. Beginning of Review Period: The three-day attorney review starts once both buyer and seller sign the contract.
  2. Contract Review: Attorneys carefully examine the contract and related documents, looking for any potential issues that could harm their clients.
  3. Disapproval or Modification: If issues are found, the attorney drafts a disapproval letter with suggested changes, to be done within the review period.
  4. Communication: The letter is sent to the other party’s attorney for review.
  5. Negotiation: If both parties agree, the contract is revised; if not, negotiations occur to find a resolution.
  6. Resolution or Termination: If disputes are resolved, the contract proceeds; otherwise, either party can terminate without penalties during the review period.
  7. Completion of Review Period: If no issues are raised, the contract becomes binding, and the real estate transaction moves towards closing.
An Image of a Attorney Review Negotiation Process
Attorney Review Negotiation Process. Photo Source (Freepik)

What Can Go Wrong In An Attorney Review?

In real estate, when lawyers review things, many problems can come up.

Some happen more often than others, and they can affect how the buying or selling of a property goes.

Contract Misinterpretation

When lawyers check real estate contracts, a common problem is not understanding the terms.

Real estate documents have tricky words that might confuse people who don’t understand the law.

For instance, a word like “contingencies” has a special meaning in law.

If people don’t get it right, the buyer and seller might argue and make the deal slow down.

Lawyers are important here.

They help make unclear words clear so that everyone understands.

They explain the contract, so both sides know what they have to do.

If a word is confusing, lawyers might suggest changing it to avoid future problems.

Unresolved Property Liens

Another issue during attorney review is finding unpaid debts, known as liens, on the property.

A lien is like a claim on the property because of a debt. If the previous owner didn’t pay some debts, creditors could put a lien on the property, making the sale more complicated.

In attorney review, a careful search is done to find any existing liens. If one is found, it has to be fixed before selling the property.

Fixing a lien usually means paying the debt or talking to the creditor to remove it.

Finding a lien can slow down the deal and might even stop it if not dealt with correctly.

Disputes over Property Boundaries

Another issue that sometimes comes up in attorney review is arguments about where a property starts and ends.

This can happen if the descriptions of the property are wrong or old, the surveys that show the property lines are different, or if neighbors are using some of the land.

During the review, the attorney usually checks a map of the property to be sure where the boundaries are.

If there’s an argument about the boundaries, it has to be fixed before the sale can happen.

This might mean getting a new map, talking to neighbors, or even going to court to figure it out.

These arguments can make the sale take a long time and cost more money.

Issues with the Property Title

A major problem during attorney review is issues with the property title, the legal document showing ownership.

Title problems can include mistakes in the deed, unknown heirs, missing info in public records, or fraud.

In attorney review, a title search is done to find any possible issues.

If a problem is found, it can be a big hurdle to selling the property.

Fixing a title problem is usually complicated and takes a lot of time, often needing legal steps or long negotiations.

Consequences of Issues Found in the Real Estate Transaction

Issues during the attorney review can have significant effects on the real estate transaction:

  1. Delays: Problems found during the review can lead to significant delays as parties work to resolve issues through negotiation, document revision, or legal action.
  2. Increased Costs: Mistakes may result in higher costs, including additional legal fees to rectify the situation or expenses related to resolving issues like property liens or title problems.
  3. Transaction Cancellation: Severe issues may lead to the cancellation of the real estate transaction if they cannot be satisfactorily resolved by both parties.
  4. Legal Consequences: Both buyers and sellers may face legal consequences, ranging from breach of contract lawsuits to being held responsible for undisclosed property issues.
  5. Damage to Relationships: Mistakes can strain the relationship between buyers and sellers, making the transaction process more difficult and potentially affecting future dealings.
  6. Loss of Future Opportunities: Major issues leading to transaction cancellation can result in the loss of future opportunities, such as a buyer missing out on their dream home or a seller losing a lucrative sale.
  7. Reputation Damage: Professional real estate buyers or sellers may suffer reputational harm in the market, potentially impacting future transactions.

These potential effects highlight the importance of a thorough and accurate attorney review process, helping parties mitigate risks and ensure a smoother transaction.

Conclusion

The real estate attorney review is a crucial phase that involves thorough document examination to ensure legal compliance.

Mistakes can lead to severe consequences like delays, increased costs, or even transaction cancellations.

Common issues include contract misinterpretation, unresolved liens, property boundary disputes, and title problems.

The process allows for negotiation and refinement, emphasizing the importance of a meticulous attorney review to mitigate risks and ensure a smooth transaction.

Further Reading!