A September 12, 2008 article in The Boston Globe discusses 10 mistakes that buyers make when purchasing a home.
What does the article say about using a lawyer? "Going without a lawyer is just plain foolish." Good advice.
Here's some bad advice from the article:
"Typically, buyers must pay the fees for both their lawyer and the bank's at closing. You can save a few hundred dollars by having your attorney also represent the bank. Caution: if you do this, then "your" attorney works for the lender when he reviews the HUD-1 Settlement Statement (which lists all closing fees) for accuracy. If you're able to fully understand your HUD-1 Settlement Statement, go for it; if not, you're making a mistake."
The closing attorney represents the bank and his or her duties and responsibilities for the lender go beyond review of the settlement statement.
Just like you should have a real estate agent that only represents your interests, your real estate lawyer should serve only you.
The article also states that "Real estate law is local. There are laws in the Commonwealth, but there is also local custom." Real estate law is the same throughout the State of Massachusetts. Only real estate agents have "customs," and your lawyer should care about what is best for you not what keeps the local real estate agents happy. If your real estate lawyer does not propose at least 12 additional paragraphs to the "Standard Purchase and Sale Agreement," you don't have a real estate lawyer.
On buying a fixer-upper, the article states, "Home repair is far more expensive and time-consuming than most first-time home buyers imagine. Not having enough saved is a recipe for foreclosure." This is so true. I tell clients all the time that no matter how great a price I negotiate for them on that home that needs $30,000 in work, it will be a disaster, if they only have $15,000 for repairs.
The article also discusses the importance of location. "Location is the thing you can't change." It's obvious, but first-time home buyers tend to lose site of that simple fact.
It's a good article worth reading.