As an attorney practicing in South Florida for 25 years, I always hear this question from prospective clients. For most people, the real estate purchase will probably be the most expensive purchase or sale of their lives. As such, it is wise to hire an attorney. The time to hire an attorney is NOT when you have already signed the purchase/sale contract. The time to hire legal counsel is when you retain the services of a realtor or, if you are not using a realtor, when you are ready to begin the purchase or sale process. Once you find the perfect home or find the strongest buyer, you will be under pressure to sign a contract and time will be of the essence.
If you have legal counsel already secured, you can immediately involve your attorney in the review of the contract. Most people do not realize that once they have signed the purchase/sale contract, it is a legal and binding agreement that cannot be amended without the written consent of both the buyer and the seller. As such, it is certainly in the parties’ best interests to have an attorney review this contract and make sure that everything is in favor of his/her client.