10 areas where buyers make mistakes

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10 mistakes buyers make | Part 1: Choosing the right help

3. Attorney selection mistakes

By Rona Fischman
September 12, 2008

Hiring the wrong kind of lawyer

Real estate law is local. There are laws in the Commonwealth, but there is also local custom.

The best real estate attorneys practice real estate law in or near the town in which you are buying.

Being penny wise and dollar foolish

Going without a lawyer is just plain foolish. You can save money in these ways, with caution:

1. Typically, buyers must pay the fees for both their lawyer and the bank's at closing. You can save a few hundred dollars by having your attorney also represent the bank. Caution: if you do this, then "your" attorney works for the lender when he reviews the HUD-1 Settlement Statement (which lists all closing fees) for accuracy. If you're able to fully understand your HUD-1 Settlement Statement, go for it; if not, you're making a mistake.

2. Pre-packaged closing deals – with a fixed-fee instead of an hourly rate – are great for standard transactions. Caution: if your work drags on, the attorney may be tempted to cut corners. If the work is extra-easy, you will have overpaid.

If you have a good reference for a fixed-fee attorney, it will probably work out to your advantage.

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