One of the questions my law firm is often asked is, do I need an attorney to buy a home? The technical answer in New Jersey, is “No”. (See In re: Opinion No. 26 of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 139 N.J. 323 (1995)). However, the common practice in northern New Jersey is to use an attorney for when purchasing or selling a home.
That said, the question the person should be asking is why wouldn’t you use an attorney to purchase or sell your home? After all, buying and/or selling a home, or any property for that matter, is generally the largest or one (1) of the largest transactions that a person undertakes in their lifetime. To not have any attorney looking out for your interests would be a disservice. After all most realtor contracts (i.e., the NJAR Contract/Offer) have terms that are very unfavorable to each party. For example, there is a clause regarding liquidated damages (i.e., losing the deposit if you breach the contract as the buyer), which is not the norm in New Jersey in a traditional residential purchase and sale. Without an attorney, should something happen and you cannot close, that clause could make it so that you lose your deposit. With an attorney present, that clause can be stricken and replaced with a clause that entitles the non-breaching party all rights and remedies at law and in equity as a result of a breach of the contract. While potentially, the buyer could still lose their deposit should a breach occur, it is not automatic. By paying for an attorney you are helping to mitigate the risk should something happen.
The information in this blog posting is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this blog or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.