Why Home Buyers Should Hire a Real Estate Agent

When searching for a new home in Georgia, you may not be aware that you could technically do it on your own. Georgians are not legally required to hire a real estate agent to assist in finding and purchasing a home. However, if you ask anyone at Frank B. Pallotta Law, the first thing we’re going to recommend is to start interviewing realtors. 

Interviewing real estate agents may sound like a daunting task but, most of the time, all it takes is simply asking your friends and family if they know a good realtor and you’ll probably end up with a longer list than you anticipated. If that comes up with little to no results, we would be happy to provide recommendations of real estate agents in Cobb, Cherokee, Fulton and surrounding Metro Atlanta counties. 

Why Hire a Professional?

A highly skilled real estate agent will help you navigate the real estate industry. They will have a team in place to guide you through one of the largest financial investments of your life. 

To make sure you know who you’re going into business with, start by researching online, ask about everyone on their “team” and learn what techniques they use to get their buyers on the winning end of every purchase. 

One question that is usually overlooked is who they use as their closing attorney. The most important phase of purchasing real estate is the moment the legally binding contracts are signed so it’s worth researching the real estate lawyer who will be processing the transaction.

Remember you are the CEO of your home search! Everyone you hire to guide you through the process, works for you.

Benefits to Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Money is the obvious benefit to hiring a real estate agent for both buyers and sellers. It’s understandable why so many people may initially think that having a middle man between buyer and seller is a waste of money but there are major financial benefits to realtors. Realtors know negotiation. As an unrepresented home buyer, you may miss huge opportunities just by simply not knowing what you can negotiate and what you cannot; what increases your home value and what does not. 

Money aside, real estate agents do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. We all know moving is a major transition and, unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop just because you are moving. You will be juggling more than usual, adding legal documents into the mix without a professional keeping you on track could get dicey. Important things that real estate agents are trained to handle might slip through the cracks. 

At the end of the day, your investment is too important to not hire a real estate agent. 

The final step in your home buying process is the closing. Behind every successful real estate agent is a highly skilled real estate attorney that takes over to process the transaction in a peaceful and fair manner after the selling price and terms have been established.

Georgia Law Requires a Real Estate Attorney 

Although Georgia does not require a realtor to buy or sell a home, all closings must be conducted by a licensed Georgia real estate attorney. Since we already know that closing on a home requires you to sign stacks of legal documents, you’re going to appreciate having that person in the room to help you understand what you’re signing and agreeing to. 

If you decide to buy your next home without a real estate agent, just note that you are still required to have a real estate attorney present at closing. Frank B. Pallotta Law would be happy to help you through that! Give us a call today and let our expert team guide you.

How COVID-19 is Temporarily Changing Georgia Real Estate Law

Every industry in the country has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 outbreak; real estate is no exception. If you’re planning on buying, selling or refinancing a home in Metro Atlanta during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ll take you through the State of Georgia Executive Orders that have been put into effect during this time to ensure your real estate closing appointment is not canceled due to the impact of COVID-19. 

As far as we know, these orders continue to remain in effect even though Governor Kemp has begun to reopen Georgia. As to when the orders will be lifted, we’re not sure, but all of us at Frank B. Pallotta Law are committed to keeping you informed on the real estate laws in Georgia as they continue to evolve.

Below we will reference Executive Order from Governor Kemp. We will break down a few key points that we think are important to understand, specifically regarding “virtual” closings.

Virtual Real Estate Closing via Videoconference

The law that requires a notary, “an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia or be operating under the supervision of an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia”, to be present in person to notarize the signing of a legal document has been temporarily suspended. The result is that all the parties to the transaction do not need to gather in one room at the same time to complete the closing.

Remote online authorization has been put into effect using real-time audio visual communication technology (“AVCT”) meaning your closing attorney (notary) can be present via videoconference (i.e. Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, etc.). Recording the AVCT session from beginning to end is required; just make sure everyone is aware when recording begins.

First and foremost, everyone involved in the closing appointment must be physically located in the state of Georgia during the videoconference. 

The signer must present their proper identification to the closing attorney. You may also have to verify your identity through a 6-digit verification code that will be text to the known signer’s phone number. This code will be included in the closing file. Your closing attorney will then witness all “wet” signatures during the real-time AVCT session.

When you first receive your closing package from Frank B. Pallotta Law, you will find a return FedEx envelope with a mailing label attached as well as a blue ink pen for the signing. During the same videoconference session, you will be required to put all of the signed documents into the FedEx envelope and seal it in-view of the attorney. Immediately after the session has ended, you will deliver the envelope via overnight delivery.  

At the end of the videoconference, it’s recommended by the General Best Practices Under Executive Order to consider stating something along the lines of, “This [name of document] was notarized pursuant to Executive Order using [insert technology name] as real-time audio visual communication technology.” Many lenders require such a document be included in the closing package.

Everything else you would normally bring to your real estate closing appointment remains the same. Make sure you have a strong internet connection and have communicated with your attorney about their own videoconference or AVTC process.

If you have more questions or concerns about real estate law in Georgia during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic and how it might impact your attempt to buy, sell or refinance your home, Frank B. Pallotta Law is here to help! Give us a call today and let our expert team guide you.

You can find more information about the Executive Orders put into effect due to COVID-19 on the State Bar of Georgia’s website.