From a legal perspective, you do not need to hire a lawyer when you purchase or sell land or property. In fact, you do not even have to involve anyone else as you can draw up an agreement directly with the other party involved in the transaction. However, hiring a lawyer who is experienced in real estate matters does provide some benefits and could help you to avoid running into legal issues related to the transaction.
When you buy or sell a piece of real estate, you and the other party involved must sign a legal contract. Many people rely on their real estate agent to draw up these contracts; agents often have standardized forms that comply with the laws that they use for every real estate transaction involving one of their clients. However, while generic real estate contracts contain the necessary verbiage that a contract should include, you run into problems if your real estate transaction involves anything out of the ordinary that the contract does not cover, such as a situation in which a seller agrees to conduct certain repairs or clear certain levies.
You can ask your real estate agent to make amendments to a standardized real estate contract, which many agents frequently do to accommodate the needs of certain clients. However, most real estate agents are not practicing lawyers. While real estate agents have a broad knowledge of real estate transactions, an opinion based on prior real estate experience and the law are two entirely different things. A lawyer can prepare a legally valid document, tailored to your needs, that complies with the law.
On the day of the closing, you sign the actual handover documents. Problems sometimes arise with regard to titling or the condition of the property between the contract date and the closing date. In some instances, unwitting buyers may end up signing a quit-document (that they are no longer interested in the deal) at closing rather than an acceptance document. Both documents enable you to transfer ownership but a warranty deed shows that no liens exist on the property while the quit claim deed does not. A real estate agent or buyer may not notice such a detail but a real estate attorney would.
Legal issues can arise after you complete a real estate transaction and, in some cases, you have the right to sue your real estate agent, the seller or even the developer if problems emerge with the house or land after the completion of the sale. If the lawyer facilitated the sale, then the attorney already has prior knowledge of the sale, which makes any litigation much easier to complete. While many real estate transactions move smoothly without the involvement of a lawyer, people involved in sales that go awry often end up wishing that they hired an attorney.