The short answer is, no. You personally, as the seller or the buyer, are not required to have an attorney at closing in a property transaction. There are, however, several reasons you should absolutely consider hiring an attorney even before you begin to look at property to purchase or selling property you already own.
Preparation of Entity to Hold Property
If you are looking to purchase property other than a homestead, it is advisable that you hold that property in some kind of entity, such as a trust or LLC. It is much simpler to acquire the property in the entity in the first place, instead of acquiring the property in your name and attempting to have it transferred later on into the entity. An attorney can help by reviewing with you what kind of property you want, what you will be using it for, and if this is the first of several properties, and advise on the kind of entity that would be most beneficial for your situation. Click here to learn more about entity formation and holding property in an LLC.
Drafting Earnest Money and Option Contracts
If you are selling your property, potential buyers may wish to enter into option contracts with earnest money in order to inspect the home and acquire financing. In an option contract, you, as the seller, are taking the property off the market and allowing the potential buyers to get their ducks in a row and you need to be compensated for that time. An option fee paid under the contract for this purpose is separate from the earnest money deposit. Clauses and provisions in earnest money contracts are vitally important as they regulate who will get to keep the earnest money if the buyers decide to back out of purchasing the home. These clauses might give buyers too much wiggle room than some sellers would be comfortable with; allowing buyers too much leeway for backing out of the deal can leave sellers holding the bag and losing out on several weeks of active marketing of the property with nothing to show for it.
Learn More About Real Estate Services From Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert
Representation at Closing: Fiduciary Duty
Often there will be an attorney at any closing in Texas. However, unless you hired that attorney specifically, you must understand that they DO NOT represent you, have no incentive or obligation to act in your best interest, and have no duty to make sure you do not get taken advantage of in any way. The attorney at closing may not even be able to answer any questions that you might have about the transaction, or help to address any issues you found with the property on the final walk through you did on the property that morning. Having your own attorney at closing ensures that you are represented by someone that has a fiduciary duty to represent your best interests; that is, they are liable to you if they fall below the minimum standards for legal representation.
If you are thinking of selling or purchasing a new ranch, apartment building, or family homestead, consider consulting with an attorney to see how they can help in the transaction. San Antonio Real Estate Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert represents buyers and sellers in property sale transactions, and provides free consultations on real estate questions. Get in touch with Nate now, or Click Here to learn more about real estate law in Texas.