A prospective client called last week. He bought a house and had it inspected. Turned out the air conditioning system needed to be replaced. The sellers said they would take care of it. At the settlement table, the sellers said they decided not to replace it but offered to place $2500 in escrow. The Buyer accepted the escrow amount. When the Buyer went to get it replaced, the cheapest he could find was $3158. He asked me if he could get the $658 difference from the Seller. The terms of the escrow agreement precluded the Buyer from getting more money.
If the Buyer had a lawyer, the lawyer would have made sure that the Buyer was protected 100%! The lawyer for the Buyer would have prepared the escrow agreement or participated in its preparation. The lawyer would have made sure that the escrow amount was more than what was required to replace the air conditioning system.
Problems seem to crop up during a real estate sale. To make sure you are protected, you should have a lawyer review the agreement of sale before you sign. You should also have a lawyer represent you prior to settlement, to help negotiate on your behalf. Finally, having a lawyer at settlement would have solved my prospective client’s problem, and saved him money in the long run.
Often, the fee you pay an attorney for representation in a real estate transaction, is recouped by the amount the lawyer is able to save for you. Not always.