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Answers to Common Questions About Real Estate Lawyers: An Interview with Marie T. Jablonski, Attorney at Law

By Marie Jablonski

Tell us a little bit about your firm and the areas of law your practice.

I have been in a solo law practice for 11 years. I focus on family law, real estate, and estate documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. I offer to do the real estate closing at the home or office of the buyer, if desired as a service to clients.

If having a lawyer is not legally required for a residential transaction, what is the benefit of hiring one?

This is an area of huge misunderstanding. I believe that buyer and seller each need a lawyer. For example in Massachusetts, if it is a cash purchase, with no lender, the buyer still needs a title exam (50 year title search) to be sure they will receive clear title to what they are actually buying, and they need to buy title insurance which is sold only by attorneys, as agents for the title insurance companies. Also, if there is a lender, there are about 100 documents for the borrower to sign, all of which must be signed in the presence of a notary public. I believe most lender rules require the attorney to prepare certain documents, and to supervise the notary who may be present with the borrower during signing. In my practice, I am present at all of my closings, and explain all documents to the buyers/borrowers. Another example is a seller in a cash transaction may believe they do not need a lawyer. But preparing a deed is legal work, and I believe it cannot be done by a non-lawyer. If it is, I believe that action is practicing law without a license.

What are the most common reasons why you might need an attorney when you buy or sell a house?

The first reason is to review the offer, which is a contract, and then either draft or review the purchase and sale agreement written by the real estate agent. These documents are legal contracts, usually for a large sum of money. There are many details that have to be attended to, and an attorney can protect the interests of their client. For example, deadlines for inspections, repairs, and criteria for cancelling the transaction are issues that need to be understood by the buyer and seller. If they are not understood, headaches are sure to follow. All during the transaction, issues and questions come up that need a lawyer's attention. (Example, buyer asks seller, may I store my furniture in your garage for a few weeks, or a few days, until the closing? Should you answer Yes or No?)

When should a prospective home buyer hire a real estate lawyer?

Before making an offer to purchase, which is a legal contract.

How would you suggest that people find a reliable and competent residential real estate lawyer?

There are many options here, but locally, the Hampden County Bar Association has a referral service and a Real Estate Section website, so these are resources that can be consulted.

What advice can you give home buyers about working effectively with their real estate attorney to make the home buying process as smooth as possible?

Read your purchase and sale agreement, every word, every page. Ask questions, provide contact information if you move or change phone numbers. Communicate with your lawyer if something changes.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your firm?

Attorney Marie T. Jablonski
Phone: 413-205-2912
Email : marietjab@excite.com
Website: www.attyjablonski.com

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