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Thursday, March 5, 2015

5 reasons to consult an attorney when you sell a house

ED. - This is the first of what I hope will be several guest posts by local attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler. Kathryn is a friend and my personal lawyer and possibly a future client. Kathryn's practice is focused upon family law areas, with divorces, estates, child custody issues and more, many of which end up involving the disposition of real estate. I have recommended her to many of my clients and used her for my own estate planning. I've asked Kathryn to put together a series of posts on topics that delve into the legal aspects of real estate transactions and I look forward to her guest posts.

The real estate market in Southeastern Michigan is active. With Spring (hopefully) around the corner, For Sale signs will begin popping up in front yards like so many crocus and daffodils. Selling real estate can be a tricky legal business. If you are contemplating selling your home in 2015, an attorney, in conjunction with your Realtor, can help you navigate the process smoothly.

Here are the top five reasons real estate sellers seek the counsel of an attorney:

1 – Purchase Agreement Review - On the sales side of the transaction, an attorney can help you and your Realtor if there are specific exceptions or requirements that go beyond the typical Purchase Agreement. An attorney can also help you determine your rights if a sale falls through or a contract is broken.

2 – Divorce. One of the unfortunate bi-products of divorce is the requirement to sell the family home. For most families, their house is their single largest asset. In order to split the family’s property equitably, quite often, the home is sold and the profits divided according to the formula set out in the divorce settlement. This is a somewhat common occurrence so most real estate agents have encountered divorce sales. However, the real estate agent may not be familiar with the intricacies of your particular settlement. Reviewing real estate sales documents with your divorce attorney may ensure that you are getting as much equity from your home as possible.

3- Probate. When dealing with an inherited house, many people seek the assistance of an attorney in conjunction with a real estate agent. For families who inherit homes, there might be mortgage questions, liens, joint ownership, and/or estate tax considerations. If you are considering selling an inherited home, an attorney can help answer some of the legal questions that go along with your real estate ones.

4 – Tax questions. With constantly evolving tax laws, it can be tough to know your rights and liabilities especially when it comes to an infrequent life event – like selling a home. Although Real Estate agents may answer most of your questions, consulting an attorney can clear up legal issues that a Realtor may not be familiar with.
“For example, the income tax consequences of a sale, particularly if the seller makes a large profit, may be considerable. An attorney can advise whether the seller can take advantage of tax provisions allowing for exclusion of capital gains in certain circumstances,” according to the FindLaw article, “Why You Need a Lawyer When You Buy or Sell a House.” - See more at:

5 – Short-Sales or Foreclosures. When it comes these particular home sale situations, you will probably want as much information as possible about what your future holds. A Realtor and an attorney can work together to reduce the negative impact to your credit and get you started on a path to financial recovery.

A Real Estate professional is your obvious first-choice when it comes to assistance during the home sales process. In addition, an attorney can foresee legal issues and eliminate them before they become impassable obstacles to the successful sale of your home. For more information on how an attorney can help smooth you home sale experience, contact Milford attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler, at 248-676-1000. You can visit her web site at -

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