Lawyer Fees To Know About When Selling a House

Lawyer Fees To Know About When Selling a House

Selling your house by yourself is a stressful experience, with a bevy of paperwork and legal processes to navigate. You also have to deal with the anxious experience of the amount you will receive from the sale.

A legal attorney can easily help you overcome these situations. The professional can negotiate the best term for your sale while analyzing and finding the best buyers. However, these services come at a specific cost that every homeowner looks forward to minimizing.

To clarify this daunting time, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the lawyer fees for selling a house you can expect.

Lawyer Fees for Selling a House

When selling a house, legal expertise comes at a price. However, given property transactions’ complexity and potential pitfalls, having a professional by your side is worth every penny.

In choosing an attorney, remember to balance cost considerations with the quality of service. The cheapest option may offer less attention than your sale requires, while the most expensive might exceed what’s necessary.

Find an attorney who is transparent about their fees and willing to provide an explicit, written agreement of their charges before beginning work.

Flat Fees

A flat fee is a one-time charge that covers all of your real estate lawyer’s services related to your home sale. Real estate lawyers typically offer this fee structure for less complicated transactions where the attorney can reasonably estimate the time and resources you need to complete the process.

Hourly Rate

Some real estate attorney fees are charged hourly, between $220 and $250. 

This type of fee structure is more common when the transaction involves more complicated issues that may require additional time throughout the sale, such as settling contract negotiations or resolving title issues.

Retainer Fees

A retainer fee is an upfront cost for legal fees that home sellers pay at the start of the attorney-client relationship. It’s similar to a down payment for the attorney’s services, ensuring you compensate them for their time even if the client ultimately decides not to proceed with the sale.

As the attorney works the case, they deduct their hourly fee from the retainer, and the client is billed for any additional cost if the amount exceeds it.

What Do Real Estate Attorneys Do?

Finding the fastest way to sell a house involves much more than handing over keys in exchange for a check. 

For instance, you need a real estate attorney to act as your legal eagle eye while offering comprehensive services that safeguard your interests and ensure the process adheres to the labyrinth of relevant laws and regulations.

Let’s dissect the roles and responsibilities that justify the lawyer fees involved.

Drafting and Reviewing Documents

As a seller, you must provide various legal closing documents like the purchase agreement, disclosure forms, and house deeds that attest to your ownership, the nature of the property, and the terms of sale. An attorney drafts and reviews these, ensuring they are accurate and legally binding.

Conducting a Title Search

Before selling, you must prove that you have a clear title to the property, which means it’s free from liens or claims that could hinder the sale. An attorney conducts a title search, rectifying any issues that may arise and affirming your rightful position to sell, which can help ease the sale process.

For instance, when you find cash home buyers in Wisconsin, they want accurate proof of ownership of the house, and a valid title search can help you close the deal.

Assisting with Closing

The closing process of a property sale involves a maze of paperwork and legal procedures. Your attorney guides you through the final steps of the deal, coordinating between various parties so all documents are accurate and funds trade hands correctly. 

Providing Tailored Legal Advice

Each property sale is unique, and laws vary widely from state to state. An attorney offers personalized advice to navigate these variations, helping you understand your obligations as a seller and protecting you from potential legal pitfalls.

Mitigating Risks

An attorney’s value lies in responding to issues and preventing them. They can anticipate potential legal complications and suggest proactive measures to avoid them, thus protecting you from costly delays and legal difficulties that could jeopardize the sale.

The Costs of a Real Estate Attorney

In addition to the basic cost of hiring a real estate attorney, there are other fees that you should budget for. Like hourly and flat rates, these can vary based on your property’s location and the fee schedules in that particular jurisdiction.

A few of the extra costs you can expect when working with a closing attorney include the following:

  • Property Search Fees: Your lawyer will conduct a property search to ensure the property you plan to sell has a clear title, free from liens.
  • Title Insurance: Although not mandatory, title insurance protects you from potential title defects. The cost varies based on the property’s value.
  • Document Preparation Fees: Your lawyer will draft the necessary documents, such as the sale deed. While these are typically part of the flat fee, they sometimes come with a separate charge. 

If you are under a budget or urgently need to make a sale, it is essential to notify your lawyer before starting the process. For instance, when you want to sell a house fast in Milwaukee, the attorney can provide extra advertisements for the property to increase your chances of getting a good deal.

The Costs of a Real Estate Attorney

Reasons Why Sellers Need a Real Estate Attorney

The decision to hire a real estate attorney might initially seem like an extra cost, but their value becomes unquestionable when you genuinely understand their benefits.

Let’s explore why having an attorney on your side when selling a house is a wise choice.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Transactions: 

In an FSBO transaction, you forego a real estate agent and take the reins yourself.

While this choice can save on commission fees, it thrusts all the responsibilities of the sale onto your shoulders, including the legal aspects.

A real estate attorney steps into the role usually filled by a realtor, guiding you through listing compliance and expertly drafting the mountain of documents associated with a property sale. They bring their legal insight to bear on your transaction so the deal is legally sound and protects your best interests.

Simply, your lawyer acts as your safety net so that your attempt to save on agent fees doesn’t result in costly legal pitfalls.

Complex Transactions

Every real estate transaction carries its own set of circumstances and potential complications. Some sales, however, are inherently more complex.

For example, you may be dealing with a tenant-occupied property with legal obligations toward the tenants or selling a property as part of an estate, which intertwines probate law with real estate law.

Or you could be navigating a short sale, where you need to negotiate with lenders due to selling the property for less than the outstanding mortgage.

These situations throw a wrench in the standard property sale process, but a real estate attorney can deftly manage the complex legalities so the transaction remains compliant and fair.

Handling Disputes

The path of a property sale doesn’t always run smoothly, and disputes can stall the process. These disagreements can be about anything from contract terms to findings during a home inspection.

In these contentious situations, a real estate attorney acts as a mediator to resolve the sale’s progress while safeguarding your interests.

Protecting the Seller’s Interests

Your ultimate goal as a seller is to complete the transaction profitably, efficiently, and without future repercussions. A real estate attorney is your stalwart ally in this endeavor, whose entire role is protecting your interests.

Whether it’s drafting disclosures correctly to prevent future lawsuits or managing the closing process to guarantee a clean transfer of ownership, their expertise is aimed at protecting you.

With an attorney by your side, you’re taking a pre-emptive strike so that your property sale won’t come back to haunt you.

Do Certain States Require a Real Estate Attorney?

Certain states require an attorney to prepare the sale documentation and be present at the real estate closing.

As of May 2023, these states include:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Even in states not on this list, the complexity of a real estate transaction might make an attorney’s involvement beneficial or necessary. Certain situations, like a foreclosure property sale or short sale, might legally require a lawyer’s involvement regardless of the state.

How to Find the Best Real Estate Attorney

Now that you understand the benefits real estate attorneys can offer, it’s time to find legal expertise that fits your needs. Use these strategies to find the right lawyer for your selling situation.

Ask for Referrals

Start with your personal network. Friends and family members who have recently sold properties may have recommendations and can provide firsthand accounts of their experience.

Research Online

The internet is a rich resource for finding and vetting potential attorneys. Search for lawyers in your area, then check their websites for their experience and specializations. It would help to look at reviews on Yelp or Google Reviews for insights from past clients.

Here you can get good reviews of agents such as Cream City Home buyers, where we buy houses in New Berlin, WI.

Conduct an Interview

Once you’ve narrowed your list, contact potential attorneys for a consultation. Ask about their experience with real estate law, client communication approach, and fee structure. Use this opportunity to gauge their level of professionalism and whether you feel comfortable with them.


Even if your state doesn’t mandate the involvement of a real estate attorney, having one can be highly beneficial. Selling a house can be an intricate process, filled with potential legal complexities that could derail the transaction, which an expert in real estate law can prevent.

Consider lawyer fees for selling a house not as an extra cost but as insurance against potential risks, and take the time to find the right attorney with the experience to navigate your home sale easily.

Contact us for more information on dealing with your house-selling process and getting the best seller at the best price.

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