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Buying or selling real estate is complicated, and there are plenty of pitfalls that could derail the transaction or leave you with a less advantageous deal than you expected. Because of the risk of loss or damaging litigation, it’s a good idea to retain experienced counsel. But what exactly does a real estate lawyer do? LaFountain & Wollman P.C. explain how we can serve your legal needs.

Real Estate Contracts

The purchase and sale agreement is the core of every real estate transaction. It will contain a number of important details regarding the deal such as:

  • A detailed description of the property
  • The purchase price
  • The amount of the buyer’s initial deposit
  • An inspection timeline for the property
  • Representations and warranties
  • Escrow closing date

A lawyer assists in several ways. First, the lawyer will review the contract to ensure it is accurate and comprehensive. Second, the lawyer may need to add clauses related to contingencies that could arise. These might include default terms or requiring the buyer to obtain financing. Lastly, the lawyer can review the contract with either the buyer or seller (whoever the client is) and explain the rights and obligations arising from it.

Title Issues

Your lawyer will work with title agencies and insurers both to conduct a title search on the property and to obtain title insurance in the event of a defect. The intent is to identify any problems that would prevent the seller from conveying marketable title to the buyer. This step protects both the buyer (from purchasing property with title problems) and the seller (from being sued for conveying poor title or making misrepresentations about it).

The presence of defects is not necessarily fatal to the transaction. Our lawyers can resolve all manner of issues that are revealed in title searches, such as easements, encroachments, and prior liens.

Valuation and Financing

Whether you are buying or selling the property, you want a good deal. This is where having a property appraisal is critical. Your real estate lawyer can order an appraisal and analyze the results with you. Based on those results, you can truly understand the value of the property and possibly have grounds to negotiate more favorable terms.

Connected with this is helping the buyer line up financing for the transaction. There are numerous options for financing the deal, depending on the nature of the property (e.g. residential, commercial, distressed, a large development, etc.) and the purpose for which the buyer is acquiring it. We can negotiate favorable terms on your behalf and help you understand your rights and obligations under the financing agreement.


The goal of both parties to a real estate transaction is reaching the closing. This is when all of the paperwork is signed and the deal is settled, or closed. Your lawyer will need to review this paperwork to ensure that necessary contracts have been signed, financing obligations have been met, inspections have been completed (and issues that have been uncovered have been addressed), title is marketable, and more.

In addition to signing contracts and other documents, funds must be transferred from the buyer to the seller on the closing date. Title to the property is also officially transferred to the buyer and the closing disclosure is signed.


Ideally, everyone walks away from the real estate transaction satisfied with the outcome. But lawsuits can be filed concerning a number of matters, such as:

  • Breach of contract
  • Breach of warranty
  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation
  • Quiet title actions
  • Title defect and title insurance issues
  • Easements

Many of these issues can be resolved in mediation, an out-of-court procedure in which a neutral third-party mediator helps parties settle lawsuits. If the matter cannot be resolved, however, we will take the case to trial.

Let Us Serve Your Real Estate Legal Needs

If you have a pending real estate transaction, be sure your legal interests are being protected. Find out why so many clients rely on the knowledgeable representation that our firm provides. Call LaFountain & Wollman P.C. today to learn more.

About the Author
Attorney PeggyAnn Wollman is an experienced lawyer and a founding member of the firm. She has worked as a lawyer in Watertown for over twenty years, and currently resides in Brighton. Attorney Wollman’s main practice areas include real estate law, condominium law, and business law.