Should I have a lawyer review the mortgage papers?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Customs vary from state to state, but regardless of custom, we strongly recommend that you at least consult with a knowledgeable real estate attorney before you sign any papers if you are going to be purchasing or selling a home and/or obtaining or granting financing.

The purchase of a house is a major investment, and taking out a mortgage involves a major long-term expenditure. Paying a few extra dollars to a knowledgeable real estate lawyer at the time you are purchasing and financing the house usually can save you many times the legal fee over the years, not to mention possible legal problems. As discussed earlier, even the “mortgage contingency clause” may be critical to buyer and/or seller. A lawyer can help.

Real estate agents generally hate to see lawyers involved in real estate contracts, and some mortgage lenders also are not keen on the idea. From their perspective, lawyers can “kill the deal”. Bad (read that to mean inexperienced) lawyers sometimes kill good deals. While good lawyers may suggest that a party kill a bad deal, they also often help convert a questionable deal into “win win”.

For the real estate agent, mortgage broker and mortgage officer at a direct lender, even a very a bad deal generates a commission. On the other hand, for the home buyer or seller a bad deal can generate major problems and expense. For example, the lawyer might point out problems, such as the “easement” that allows a neighboring landowner to drive tractor trailer trucks through what would be your backyard. A lawyer might also give you advice to demand or reject conditions, such as responsibility for removing a leaking oil tank and cleaning up environmental damages.

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