Bethesda Real Estate Lawyer FAQ’s

Why should I hire Michael E. Gross rather than some settlement company?

Buying or refinancing your property is an important activity. For most people, purchasing a house is the largest single business transaction that they will undertake in their lives. It makes sense to have the transaction handled by someone who has your interests at heart.

Settlement companies can process a real estate settlement. However, they are not representatives or advocates for one side or another. They are mere intermediaries, who have no loyalty to either party and do not want to have any. They simply wish to get your case done and get on to the next one. To some extent, they have interests adverse to the buyer or seller.

Also, some settlement companies may be partly owned by the real estate broker or the lender, and may have good reasons to prefer their interests over yours.

When you hire the Law Offices of Michael E. Gross as your settlement agent, you are hiring an attorney to represent you. Our duty of loyalty is to you and we look at the transaction through your eyes. Should a problem arise, we will be your advocate with the seller, the real estate agents, the lender or others. Obviously we must treat the other parties fairly as required by the contract of sale, but if a judgment needs to be made, it will be made with your interests in mind.

Doesn’t the real estate agent represent me?

Unless you have signed a buyer’s brokerage agreement with your agent, he or she represents the seller. If you have signed a buyer’s brokerage agreement, then he or she represents you for the purpose of negotiating a sales contract. However, there is a great deal more to buying a property than just signing the contract. The contract is the “road map” for the sale. However, as anyone who has taken a car trip knows, there are many things that come up along the way that the map may not prepare you for.

Your agent is an expert in the prices of homes and the negotiation strategy for winning a property. But, there are many things that the agent cannot do for you. Most importantly, he or she cannot advise you as to the legal meaning of any portion of the purchase contract. Although many terms of the purchase contract are commonly used and have “practical” meanings, only your attorney can interpret the legal meaning of the document and tell you the legally enforceable ins and out of the contract. When it comes to the settlement, it is important to have an attorney handle the settlement so that your rights are fully protected.

It sounds as thought I should have an attorney advise me before I sign the contract.

Yes. As stated above, the contract is the road map of the sale. Once the contract is signed, you have obligated yourself to take a particular road to settlement. If you should have taken a different road, it is too late to change after the contract is signed. You should have an attorney review the contract before you sign it.

But the agent said that if I delayed giving my offer to have an attorney review it, someone else could get the house ahead of me.

Possibly. In a seller’s market, speed may be essential in order to get the property that you want. However, that is no reason to disregard your own interests. The form of contract used most often in this area contains over 30,000 words. Before making any offer, you should get a sample of the contract that the agent might wish you to sign, and review it with an attorney. Then when you are called upon to make a written offer, you will know what you are doing and how to look out for your interests.

Isn’t it cheaper to settle with a settlement company rather than a lawyer?

Perhaps, but the difference is not great. The settlement company has to pay its staff and overhead costs, so it can’t give away its services. Often, the “settlement fee” that you see quoted in the big letters is only a part of the expenses that you will actually be charged.

When you hire the Law Offices of Michael E. Gross as your settlement attorney, you receive not only the services of a competent and experienced settlement agent, but also the representation of an attorney for little more than the price of the settlement agent alone. When you are making the largest purchase of your lifetime, why would you want to “cheap out” and shortchange yourself?

What if I have other questions?

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