Blog Series: Do I Really Need a Real Estate Attorney?


All too often we are asked “I have a realtor, why do I need an attorney too?”[1]

According to, the answer is “yes” if any of the following questions apply to your transaction:


  • Are you an out of town buyer?
  • Are you buying a property that is a short sale or bank owned?
  • Are you buying a property that is part of an estate sale?
  • Are you buying a commercial property?
  • Are you buying a property that could potentially have some structural issues?
  • Are you buying a property in a problematic area such as a flood zone or areas with adverse conditions (tornado prone, radon, toxicity levels, etc.)?


  • Are you selling a property that is in some state of distress?
  • Are you the heir or executor of a property whose owner is now deceased?
  • Are you selling a house with a non-cooperative partner?
  • Do you have that gut feeling that something could possibly go wrong based on knowledge you have about the property?
  • Do you have judgments or liens in your background?[2]

Even if none of the above applies, there are many other reasons why an experienced real estate attorney will prove to be a valuable asset to your buying or selling experience.

  1. Your real estate attorney only represents your rights and interests. A realtor may not step in to settle a dispute for fear of upsetting a party and losing the transaction.
  2. Your real estate attorney is trained to spot issues and solve problems that may not be readily apparent to others involved.
  3. Your real estate attorney is able to modify the “standard” contracts often used in residential transactions to avoid issues, problems, and disputes. Similarly, they can use your knowledge of the property to make the contracts most favorable to you.
  4. Your real estate attorney will walk you through your options throughout the transaction, including, for instance, if an issue arises upon inspection, or in the title work. They will be able to let you know whether you can walk away from the deal, and what will happen to the earnest money.
  5. Your real estate attorney will review and clearly explain to you the complex documents you will receive, including loan documents, title work, encumbrances, and closing documents.
  6. Your real estate attorney will attend the closing to ensure that no last minute issues arise, and that it progresses smoothly.
  7. And finally, your real estate attorney will give you the peace of mind of knowing you are in good hands!

As you can see, even if your transaction is “simple,” an attorney can provide you with valuable assistance and peace of mind so all you have to worry about is moving in!

Disclaimer:  Please note that reading and/or commenting on this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship with Eustice, Laffey, Sebranek & Auby, S.C. absent an express agreement between the firm and the client.  Contacting Eustice, Laffey, Sebranek & Auby, S.C. or any of its attorneys or employees via this website or via email does not create an attorney-client relationship.

We would be pleased to communicate with you by email. However, please note that if you communicate with us-through this website, via email, or otherwise-in connection with a matter for which we do not already represent you, your communication may not be treated as privileged or confidential and may be disclosed to other persons.



[1] To be clear, we love our realtor friends and colleagues, and nothing in this post is meant to minimize the hard work they put in on a transaction.


Blog Series: Buying or Selling a Home

Spring is in the air (well, sort of).  Traditionally, the coming of spring brings to Wisconsin a number of things: the ability to occasionally go outside without looking like the kid from A Christmas Story, renewed hope (err…optimism for the future) in our Milwaukee Brewers, and the start of the real estate season.  Spring and summer months are traditionally the busiest times of year for residential home transactions – and the times when our firm is contacted most frequently by prospective buyers, sellers, or their agents.

Whether you are a first time homebuyer, or a seasoned veteran, the process of buying and selling a home – replete with deadlines, stacks of paperwork, and legal and technical jargon – may be intimidating.  Fear not!  We are here to help.  Over the next few weeks, this Blog will discuss the home buying or selling process, including the following concepts:

  • Listing Agreements,
  • Why and When to Hire an Attorney,
  • The Offer to Purchase,
  • Contingencies,
  • Legal Title and Title Insurance, and
  • The Closing.

Along the way, we hope to not only inform you, our readers, of the basics, but also to discuss some common misconceptions and pitfalls, answer your questions, and show you ways that we can help.

We hope you will join us for this discussion.  If along the way you decide you would like to meet with one of our real estate attorneys, please contact us at (608) 837-7386.

Disclaimer:  Please note that reading and/or commenting on this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship with Eustice, Laffey, Sebranek & Auby, S.C. absent an express agreement between the firm and the client.  Contacting Eustice, Laffey, Sebranek & Auby, S.C. or any of its attorneys or employees via this website or via email does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Understanding Multiple Representation Relationships and Designated Agency

When you agree on a specific realtor, he/she will provide you with a broker agreement for services.  Within this agreement, you will be provided with the following choices regarding the relationship you establish with the real estate agent and the brokerage firm.

___ Consent to designated agency

___ Consent to multiple representation relationships, but I do not consent to designated agency.

___ Reject multiple representation relationships.

This post will decipher what each of those choices mean.  It is important to note that a real estate broker is the actual firm/company that employs real estate agents.  Although not common, it is entirely possible to have a one person real estate firm.  In the case of a one person firm, designated agency (as you will learn below) wouldn’t be an option because you need at least two agents to provide the separate and distinct representation.

If you consent to designated agency, it means that different sales agents of the same broker (First Weber, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, etc.) could represent the Buyer and Seller in the same transaction.   The buyer’s agent owes its loyalty to the buyer and acts solely in the buyer’s interest and the seller’s agent does the same for the seller.  Each party has their own agent working on their behalf (do not share the same agent).   In theory, designated agency is supposed to provide “full-service” negotiation on behalf of the agent’s client and create the effect that the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent are independent, as if they were from completely different real estate firms.

If you consent to multiple representation relationships, but do not consent to designated agency this means that the broker can represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction, cannot at any time put the interests of one party over that of the other and cannot give helpful advice to one that would be detrimental to the other.  With this representation, neither the buyer nor the seller really has anyone in their “corner” looking out for their best interests and is much more limiting than a designated agency relationship.

Rejecting multiple representation relationships (MMR) means that the broker (real estate firm) cannot represent both the buyer and seller in the same transaction.  A consequence of rejecting multiple representation relationships is that you narrow your pool of prospective buyers/sellers.  This is because a buyer who rejects MMRs is essentially saying that they don’t want to look at/consider any properties being marketed by their broker.  The same limitation applies to a seller who rejects MRRs; they would be precluding any potential buyers represented by the same broker.  In reality, if the buyer’s dream house is listed with buyer’s broker (by a different agent), the buyer may switch his/her representation designation and pursue the purchase of the house.

Consent to designated agency or MRR can be withdrawn by written notice at any time, which provides for flexibility if circumstances change.     Generally, the recommended choice is designated agency, but because each situation is different, the particular facts of a representation will dictate the ultimate choice.   If you have any questions about which representation relationship is best for you, please feel free to contact the author, Attorney Josh Kindkeppel, at (608) 255-8000 or