How to Effectively Use an Attorney From a Realtor’s Perspective

We have found with our experience that most real estate professionals are not aware of how they can most effectively utilize an attorney throughout a real estate transaction to not only protect themselves, but to better serve their clients. Many real estate professionals (and/or even their clients) are under the assumption that they will receive a large legal bill even when asking the simplest of questions. We, at Berlin Patten, believe that real estate transactions are a joint effort that requires interaction with real estate professionals at all stages of a transaction, especially prior to the contract stage. Below are four (4) general stages to a real estate transaction and how an attorney can assist in protecting not only the real estate professional, but also their clients:

  1. Listing Stage
  2. Pre-Contract Stage
  3. Contract/Closing Stage
  4. Post-Closing Stage

1.            Listing Stage:

  • Lien issues (find out what possible title issues may exist before taking on the listing . . .)
  • Open and/or Expired Permits (understanding how to deal with a permit issue up front will allow you the ability to properly disclose in MLS or rectify the issue before providing a Sellers Disclosure to a prospective Buyer)
  • Short Sale Discussions (understand the Sellers expectations, assets, sales price, debt)
  • Foreclosure matters (don’t take the listing if the court sale date is set or the summary judgment is quickly approaching).
  • Strategy Sessions on Asset Protection
  • FIRPTA issues
  • Tax advice
  • Bankruptcy advice

2.            Pre-Contract Stage:

  • Address all items under the Listing Stage that have not already been addressed
  • Review and analyze the Contract (Prior to execution submit the Contract to your attorney to obtain their advice and guidance . . . Berlin Patten will generally do this at no cost to you or your client).
  • Review and Develop any Addendums (Many times we find real estate professionals prepare addendums on behalf of their clients . . . we recommend having an attorney prepare the addendum or at the very least review it prior to distribution).
  • Issue spot to avoid future pitfalls (e.g., Short Sale Approval time frames, Financing Contingency timeframes and terms, HOA/Condo related matters, etc.)

3.            Contract/Closing Stage: This stage is probably the most well known stage and definitely a place where the Attorney on the file can lend a tremendous amount of experience in resolving title and survey defects.

  • Quarterback the file – Making sure all parties are proactively moving toward closing
  • Streamline communications to all parties (Berlin Patten provides weekly email notifications to all parties)
  • Address and resolve title issues
  • Address and resolve survey issues
  • HOA/Condo Association estoppel issues
  • Municipal Lien and Open Permit Matters
  • Coordinate Closing & Disbursement

4.             Post-Closing Stage:

  • Final Policy/Deed Delivery
  • Double check lien releases
  • Monitoring potential post-closing holdbacks
  • Forwarding closing documentation to third party professionals on behalf of client.


Berlin-Patten, PLLC

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

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