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What Are the Best Sources for Real Estate Law Advice?

Documents associated with a real estate sale.
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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2014
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Although there are usually a lot of different avenues for learning about real estate law, the best source for real estate law advice is usually an attorney who is familiar with local laws and regulations. Real estate laws vary from place to place, which makes understanding local regulations very important. General resources like books and online legal forums can be helpful sources of real estate law advice, but can often be outdated or overly general. Professionals like mortgage agents and real estate inspectors often know a lot about the law, but the advice they provide is often specific only to a nuanced field. For broad-reaching real estate advice, a real estate law attorney is often the best bet.

Understanding real estate law is important to any number of property-related transactions. Buying and selling land, leasing office space, and constructing buildings are among the events that depend at least in part on compliance with local real estate laws. Depending on the nature of the real estate transaction, finding good legal advice may be as simple as reading a book on real estate transactions. Personalized professional advice is usually required for more complicated scenarios, however.

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Almost any library or bookstore will have a number of books on real estate law, guides to navigating different real estate transactions, and handbook-type manuals for property owners and renters. These books can be a valuable source of real estate law advice. They are best when used as simple primers, however, and cannot be expected to provide nuanced advice for specific situations.

One of the problems with commercial sources of real estate law advice is the breadth of their intended audiences. Real estate laws vary by jurisdiction — each country, and within each country many states and provinces — have their own rules governing real estate transactions. Books providing legal advice might also be out of date, since laws are often amended or changed. Printed material giving real estate law advice can be a great place to start understanding the legal complexities of transactions, but are not usually recommended as definitive sources.

Real estate law advice is also increasingly published online. As with all Internet postings, however, the source is critical. Almost anyone can open a web page or post information to a legal forum, but just because it is there does not mean that it is accurate. The best sources for real estate law advice online are government websites, the websites of real estate organizations and associations, and individual real estate law attorneys or firms.

Lawyer advertising laws in most places prohibit lawyers from giving more than very general advice without a consultation. Specific real estate law questions, then, usually require at least an in-person meeting with a real estate law lawyer. Real estate law lawyers are typically experts in the local real estate scene, and are licensed to represent, advise, and consult on any number of real estate-related transactions.

In most cases, real estate lawyers are the only place to get real estate law advice that is tailored to a specific question or situation. Sometimes, mortgage agents, financial advisers, and even landlords and realty agents will offer real estate law advice to customers or clients. That advice is specific only to the source’s field of expertise, however, and is usually designed to be more informative than actually advisory. Most laws prohibit anyone but licensed attorneys from actually giving legal advice.

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