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By: Roberto Vazquez

What is the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a Real Estate Attorney?

Real Estate

How Do Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Attorneys Differ?

Navigating Florida’s real estate market can be overwhelming for someone looking to purchase or sell a property. The state allows individuals to represent their own interests during these transactions, but in doing so, they take on all the risk if issues should arise. Most people choose to enlist the assistance of a real estate agent or lawyer who can simplify the process and guide them to a successful conclusion.

But who should you hire: a real estate attorney or a real estate agent? The answer all depends on the details of your transaction and whether you need legal advice. In some situations, you may even require both. Understanding what each professional does and their roles in different varieties of real estate transactions is a key part of the decision-making process.

What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

Real estate agents are licensed professionals who assist clients in buying, selling, or renting properties. Individuals wishing to obtain licensing as a real estate agent in Florida must pass the state’s examinations and meet the relevant qualifications outlined in Chapter 475 of the Florida Statutes. The many responsibilities of a real estate agent can include:

  • Meeting and interviewing clients to understand their needs
  • Researching listings to filter out the best deals based on the client’s goals and budget
  • Valuing properties based on market analysis
  • Planning property showings
  • Answering any questions that buyers have during property tours
  • Looking for potential defects in the property and hiring inspectors
  • Negotiating costs for repairs or upgrades
  • Submitting offers and representing their client during negotiations
  • Drawing up closing documents

Real estate agents are often well-connected and can frequently help clients find a commercial or residential property that meets their specifications. They usually have in-depth knowledge of the local housing market and know neighborhoods and the surrounding areas in detail. In terms of compensation, real estate agents are typically paid through commission after a deal is successfully negotiated and closed. This commission is generally around five percent of the home’s sale price.

Real estate agents provide comprehensive support at every stage of the process, helping clients make informed decisions. However, one thing a real estate agent cannot do is provide legal advice. If you encounter a problem during your transaction, a real estate agent is not qualified or allowed to give you any type of legal guidance.

What is the Role of a Real Estate Attorney?

Real estate attorneys are trained legal professionals who assist clients in navigating the legal landscape when buying or selling property. Real estate attorneys can typically perform nearly all the duties of a real estate agent, and they can also provide legal protection and give legal advice regarding issues that may arise during or after the transaction. Real estate attorneys are authorized to prepare property purchase agreements, undertake title and lien searches, review and explain contracts, and resolve disputes. They can help make certain that all documents are correctly prepared and the property has a clean title free of encumbrances.

Unlike a real estate agent, an attorney usually charges an hourly rate or a flat fee for a particular service. Asking questions about the attorney’s pricing during your initial consultation can provide you with an estimate for your expenses. Seeking the help of an experienced attorney when necessary can be very cost-effective in the long run, as failing to correctly and promptly handle legal issues during a property transaction could lead to expensive problems in the future.

Does Florida Law Require You to Hire a Real Estate Agent or an Attorney for Your Property Transaction?

In some states, such as New York and Massachusetts, only a real estate lawyer is allowed to perform a title search, prepare the home purchase documents, and/or close the deal. However, Florida law does not impose these restrictions. Both real estate agents and attorneys can be employed to represent the interests of the buyer or seller, and each can contribute their unique skills to the process.

The decision to use an attorney, an agent, or both is typically based on the details of the transaction and your personal needs. The legal knowledge possessed by real estate attorneys can prove extremely useful during more complex real estate transactions, such as high-value homes or commercial properties. Conversely, a real estate agent may have more experience with local neighborhoods and home value trends that can be helpful when pursuing a residential property transaction. In some cases, you may begin your property purchase or sale under the guidance of a real estate agent, only to run into an issue like a land dispute or a complicated lease agreement that requires the assistance of an attorney.

How Can Our Law Firm Help You?

The Orlando real estate market is fast-paced and dynamic. If you are looking to buy or sell residential or commercial property, it can be vital to have a skilled local real estate attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of these transactions. Even if you have a real estate agent, there may be many situations where it can be useful to enlist the services of a qualified attorney.

Buying a home, business, or development property is a significant investment in your future. Morey Law Firm, P.A. can help you protect your investment. Our real estate attorneys can provide the clear legal guidance you need to successfully complete your transaction and avoid any pitfalls that could lead to litigation. Contact our Orlando law firm today at 407-904-9166 and schedule a no-obligation case evaluation to learn how we can serve you.