Real estate attorneys aren't required to complete a real estate transaction -- in fact, you can usually handle most of the documents yourself. But that doesn't mean that they aren't useful and (at times) advised. There are a few situations in which a real estate attorney will greatly help you in ensuring that your real estate transaction moves smoothly. A real estate attorney will not only make sure that you understand the purchase process, but will also be able to head off potential issues.  

Are You Purchasing a Short Sale or Foreclosure?

Short sales and foreclosures usually take longer to close than other real estate transactions, due to their complexity. When you purchase a short sale, you're dealing with the lender -- and when you purchase a foreclosure, you may be dealing with either the lender or the government. Either way, it becomes important to have an attorney as an active advocate and participant, to push the process along. Otherwise these real estate transactions can take significantly longer than their ordinary counterparts.

Are You Purchasing a Home With Liens?

There are many times when you may be purchasing a home that has liens against it. These liens could be held by a homeowner's association, reverse mortgage company, or simple home equity lender. Regardless, you need to make sure that these liens are properly removed during the sale. While a title company is generally charged with this responsibility, there can be issues that cause problems for you later on. If a lien isn't properly released, it may complicate things when you go to sell your property years later.

Are You Purchasing a Property With Unusual Easements?

Easements on a property are usually an area through which others may pass -- in other words, common spaces. If you have easements through your property, such as a road that passes through to other homes, you may need to make sure that your property lines are divided fairly and that you still retain the rights that you need to your home. Otherwise you could run into complications later on if you want to make modifications or additions to your new real estate.

While a real estate professional is incredibly valuable, their area of expertise lies within real estate value and the real estate market. They are not always knowledgeable about real estate law, especially in niche situations such as the above. A real estate attorney is always a good resource, but they are especially beneficial in more complicated transactions.