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Can an attorney replace an agent?

Posted by Rona Fischman March 19, 2012 02:08 PM

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Today, Sam Schneiderman, Broker-owner of Greater Boston Home Team discusses the role of an attorney vs. an agent’s role in a real estate transaction.

Several weeks ago, someone suggested that buyers hire an experienced real estate attorney instead of using a buyer’s agent.

The roles of an attorney and agent are different. When good agents and attorneys work together, they are more effective at managing a transaction so that the client is well protected and issues get handled before they become big problems. The agent is on the front line. Whenever possible, good agents make a point of understanding issues involved in the entire transaction up front, so that there are no unpleasant surprises later. Unless you are a very experienced buyer or seller or you are selling to or buying from someone you know, bypassing an agent may not be the best move. I have seen even experienced buyers and sellers get in over their heads before they realized what happened.

Since I am a broker, I thought that it would be good to get the attorney’s perspective on this question. I encouraged several attorneys to comment for or against having an agent in the transaction. This is what they said:

Attorney John E. Mahoney:

”An agent should act as your eyes and ears throughout the entire transaction. An experienced professional applies market knowledge, plus what he/she knows about your requirements, and can alert you and your attorney about possible property issues or others that could arise between buyer and seller. Using just a lawyer removes that important initial layer of expertise because the attorney only sees the paperwork and deals with the other side’s attorney after the terms of the deal are set.”

Scott Kriss
of Kriss Law / Atlantic Closing & Escrow:
”It’s not only wise for a Buyer or Seller to work with a Realtor, it is imperative. An experienced Realtor gives a Buyer or Seller tips, input, and advice that often maximizes the largest investment of a person’s life. I don’t see the property so it’s hard for me to do that.”

Attorney Paul Lugten of Lugten and Morin said that most agents are an advantage to transactions he’s involved in because:

“-They manage expectations by advising clients what to expect; what’s reasonable and what’s not.
-If there are hard feelings between buyer and seller, agents can act as buffers and prevent clients from acting against their own self-interest.
- Without an agent’s involvement, P&S agreements often languish on some attorney’s desk, certificates are missing, repairs are not completed properly, and many properties are left in shambles for buyer’s walk through, etc.”

The attorneys qualified their responses by saying “most” or “experienced” agents. We know that there are agents and attorneys that can mess up any transaction they touch. Those aren’t the ones we are talking about today. Choose wisely.

From our unique vantage points, good agents can spot problem transactions as early as possible and spare their client(s) the cost and frustration of getting involved in a deal that is likely to fall apart for reasons that even the best attorney would not be likely to predict.

Attorneys let's hear from you.

Would you rather have an agent involved in a transaction or not?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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