Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer, when I’m Selling my Home?

Written By: Melissa D'Ellena, D'Ellena Law

While there are very few questions that an attorney can answer with a simple, yes or no answer, this one is pretty straight forward.  Real estate transactions are complicated and they have many layers that require someone that can negotiate and advocate on your behalf, to convey clear title. 

There are a lot of articles about buying your first time home but no one talks about being a “first time seller” and far too often, the seller does not realize that they have a choice to select their own attorney.  If the seller is not aware of their right to chose an attorney, then then often times they rely on the closing attorney, selected by the Buyer, or buyer’s lender to prepare their documents for the sale.  While the closing attorney is able to prepare the conveyancing documents required to complete the sale, they have no obligations to represent or protect the seller.

As a Seller’s attorney, we are obligated to verify the accuracy of every final figure associated with the transaction, and explain all of the financials to the you, in advance of the closing and at the closing.  In fact, most of the final figures including final municipal bills (water, sewer) and mortgage payoffs, as applicable, are usually obtained by the Seller’s attorney and provided to the buyer’s closing attorney to include on the final Closing Disclosure (CD).   

So Yes, if you are selling a piece of real estate, regardless if you are selling your first house, an investment property or a commercial business, you should hire counsel.  The more complicated the transaction the more important it will be to have an attorney representing you. 

The cost of hiring an attorney can range from $375.00 - $950.00, depending on the type of sale involved and the requirements for the sale.  If the Seller holds the property in Trust and is subject to the Non-resident tax imposed by the State of Rhode Island, then the costs for said preparation will be on the higher end of the range.

If you do not believe that you need an attorney to represent you as a Seller then you are expected to compensate the closing attorney to prepare the seller documents, required for the sale, and the average cost for the doc prep ranges from $300-$500.00.

The majority of sellers as of 2020 do now hire their own attorney to handle their sale of real estate, which I believe is attributed to the increased complexities and litigation between parties. 


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