During the real estate boom of the mid-2000’s, the number of real estate transactions conducted in South Florida (and throughout the U.S.) increased to unprecedented numbers. The sheer volume was so high, that many buyers, sellers and real estate professionals (brokers) saw no reason for real estate attorneys to be involved. Many probably felt that the adage of “attorney’s are deal killers” was in fact true. In any case, employing real estate attorneys was viewed by most as an unnecessary expense.
Fast forward to 2011 and it appears that attitudes have indeed changed. Our firm is finding it increasingly unusual to have a real estate sales transaction closed without the involvement of attorneys representing each the buyer and the seller. We believe the reason for this is due to the lessons learned during the boom. Buyers want to be more careful of the documents they sign in a closing and they want to know the meaning behind every sheet of paper that requires their “John Hancock”. Also, they want to be sure that they are actually getting the mortgage they were sold. By contrast, sellers want to be sure that they are not overpaying for closing costs and that they are not liable for certain kinds of title defects. In the case of short sales, sellers want to know that their personal liability on their mortgage debt is eliminated.
In the final analysis, it’s clear that lessons sometimes take years to be learned. On a positive note, at least we can say we are learning; lest we repeat the errors of our past.