We recommend that house hunters choose an attorney and an inspector–and a back-up for each–early in the house hunting process. That way, when you find a house and start making an offer, you are not scrambling to interview attorneys and inspectors during a busy week.
You need to know what they are going to be doing on your behalf. Here are the services you should expect.
- Check your condo docs to make sure there is nothing that will make the place a problem for you or for your lender.
- Review the Purchase and Sales Agreement to make sure that your ownership rights will be correct, that there are few ways to renege for the seller before closing and as many ways as possible to renege for you before closing. (Generally, both parties have very few ways to break the contract.)
- Close the transaction. Some lenders will allow your preferred attorney, some will not. Most attorneys will give a discount on the Purchase and Sales and condo doc review, if they can close the loan. (The closing work pays well.) If you want to do that, check with your lender to find out if your attorney is, or can be added, to attorney list.
- Inspect the property.
- Test for certain things. This varies. Some are licensed to inspect for wood-boring insects, most do radon testing.
- Some have specialties in allergy prevention, or have experience as builders, or are also licensed as engineers. Do you have certain things you are concerned about?
The Personality Factor
Once you confirm that your attorney and inspector will provide the services you want, evaluate them on your comfort level with them.
Was it easy to get information about their services?
Were they available the way you like it — by email, phone?
Was the communication style the way you want it — clear, factual, personal, reassuring?
Last, consider price. The fees on quality inspectors and attorneys don’t vary that much.