Floridians Underutilize Real Estate Attorneys

November 16, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla.-- Despite Florida ranking second in the United States in instances of mortgage fraud per capita, sixty-two percent of Floridians say that they did not consult a real estate attorney when buying, selling or renting their home, according to a survey commissioned by Florida-based Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund's Consumer Education Campaign. In contrast, the study also found "understanding real estate laws" as the second biggest obstacle to homeownership in the state.

Residents in South Florida consult real estate attorneys more frequently, compared to residents in other parts of the state. For example, 44 percent of residents in West Palm Beach and 45 percent of residents in Miami-Dade say that they have consulted real estate attorneys in the past, compared to 31 percent of residents in Tampa and Orlando who consulted a real estate attorney when buying or selling property.

Additional significant findings from the study include:

49 percent of Floridians cite "protecting the homebuyers' interests" as the most important area in which real estate attorneys provide value.

"Resolving legal issues" is seen as the second most important service where real estate attorneys provide value.

Despite identifying "understanding real estate laws" as the second biggest obstacle to homeownership, Floridians rate "drafting a contract" and "issuing title insurance" as the lowest priority for real estate attorneys.

"Real estate transactions are often one of the largest personal investments someone makes," said Charles J. Kovaleski, president of The Fund. "As this survey illustrates, understanding real estate laws is a major obstacle to owning a home reiterating the value a real estate attorney can bring to the process and the importance of seeking their counsel when buying, selling or renting a home."

The survey's findings on the underutilization of real estate attorneys in Florida highlight an environment that enables the growing problem of fraudulent real estate activity in Florida. Oftentimes a real estate attorney can spot signs of real estate fraud before it actually occurs, and is the only professional in the process legally trained to identify and resolve such issues.

Source: Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund, Inc.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.