Selling Your Massachusetts Home? Roles Your Attorney and Real Estate Listing Agent Will Play

As a home seller, what are the implications of Massachusetts being one of the few states in the country that is considered an “attorney state” for residential real estate transactions?

Massachusetts is one of the few states in the country that is considered an “attorney state” for residential real estate transactions. That means that home buyers and sellers in Massachusetts typically have an attorney represent them (unlike other states where most matters are handled by a real estate agent and a title company). Attorneys involvement is required by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 221, Section 46a, which prohibits the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers.

If you're planning to sell your Massachusetts home, you'll want to know when what roles your real estate agent and attorney will play.

Real Estate Agent’s Role in a Massachusetts Home Sale

As part of helping you sell a home in Massachusetts, your real estate agent will provide you with a market analysis to determine the market value of your home, list your home for sale in the MLS, and provide marketing and other advice related to the sale. Your agent may also make recommendations regarding repairs, staging, and other updates to assist with the sale of the home.

A Massachusetts seller’s agent (also known as a listing agent) will also inform you of certain legal obligations – such as the requirement to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the obligation to fulfill the requirements of the lead paint law for homes built prior to 1978, and inspection requirements for homes serviced by private septic systems.

Your seller’s agent will also present all offers to you and negotiate offers on your behalf. He or she may also make recommendations or offer advice if the buyer requests repairs or price adjustments after receiving a home inspection report. A listing agent has a fiduciary duty to the seller to negotiate in your best interests and keep confidential your personal information.

Real estate agents in Massachusetts, however, are prohibited from providing legal advice. They may not draft contracts beyond filling in the blanks on standard REALTOR

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