Why Hiring an Attorney Could be a Smart Move for Home Buyers Post-NAR Settlement

In the wake of the recent settlement between the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the landscape of home buying is undergoing a significant shift. With the focus now on empowering buyers with more flexibility and transparency, there’s a growing opportunity for homebuyers to rethink their approach to representation in real estate transactions.

The NAR settlement, which addresses antitrust concerns related to practices in the real estate industry, has prompted a reevaluation of the traditional roles of real estate agents in home purchases. One key takeaway from this settlement is the newfound freedom for buyers to negotiate terms and fees more openly. Prior to the settlement, sellers paid the buyer’s agent and buyers had no role in negotiating the commission structure. Buyers are not bound to pay an agent or agree to hire the seller’s agent to make an offer on a home.

Considering these changes, there’s a compelling case to be made for homebuyers to consider alternatives to traditional real estate agents, with hiring an attorney emerging as a particularly attractive option. Here’s why:

Legal Expertise and Advocacy

While real estate agents provide valuable services, including market insights and property search assistance, they may lack the legal expertise necessary to navigate the intricacies of purchase agreements and negotiations effectively. Attorneys, on the other hand, are trained legal professionals who specialize in contract law and can provide expert guidance throughout the home buying process.

By hiring an attorney to represent them, homebuyers can benefit from dedicated legal advocacy tailored to their specific needs and interests. Attorneys can review purchase agreements, negotiate key terms, and ensure that buyers’ rights are protected every step of the way.

Cost Savings

One of the most significant advantages of hiring an attorney over a traditional real estate agent is the potential for substantial cost savings. Consider this: at a standard 3% commission, which is what a buyer’s agent typically receives from the seller, purchasing a $1 million home could result in a $30,000 payout to the buyer’s agent.

In contrast, an attorney could provide comparable services, including purchase agreement review and negotiation assistance, for a fraction of that amount. By opting for legal representation instead of a traditional agent, homebuyers can keep more money in their pockets while still ensuring a smooth and legally sound transaction.

Transparent Fee Structure

Real estate agents typically charge a commission based on the sale price of the property, often around 3% for the buyer’s agent. This commission is typically paid by the seller but can indirectly impact the buyer through higher purchase prices.

In contrast, lawyers often charge fees based on an hourly rate or a flat fee for specific services. This fee structure tends to be more transparent, allowing buyers to know exactly what they’re paying for and avoiding surprises at closing.

Long-term Value

While the upfront cost of hiring a lawyer may seem higher than simply paying a commission to a real estate agent, it’s essential to consider the long-term value of legal representation.

A lawyer’s expertise can help buyers avoid costly mistakes and legal pitfalls that could arise during the transaction or after closing. By ensuring that the purchase agreement is legally sound and all necessary due diligence is conducted, lawyers can help protect buyers from potential liabilities and disputes down the line, ultimately saving them money in the long run.

Negotiation Power

In today’s competitive real estate market, buyers are constantly seeking ways to make their offers stand out. By choosing to work with an attorney rather than a traditional agent, buyers can leverage their negotiating power in unique and compelling ways.

For instance, rather than asking for the buyer’s agent’s commission to be paid as a closing cost by the seller, buyers can present themselves as more attractive candidates by proposing to cover legal fees instead and that the seller is only responsible for the seller’s agent’s commission. This not only demonstrates a willingness to take on responsibility but also underscores the buyer’s commitment to a fair and transparent transaction.

Conclusion

The recent NAR settlement has ushered in a new era of opportunity and empowerment for homebuyers. With the freedom to negotiate terms and fees more openly, buyers now have the flexibility to explore alternative forms of representation beyond traditional real estate agents.

By hiring an attorney to represent them in real estate transactions, homebuyers can benefit from expert legal guidance, cost savings, and enhanced negotiation power. In an increasingly competitive market, choosing the right representation can make all the difference – and opting for legal expertise may be the smartest move a buyer can make.

By: Ted Schneider, Esq.

Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. Welcomes Experienced Litigation Attorney Georgianna Pennington Regnier to the Firm

Ventura County business law firm Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. welcomes attorney Georgianna Pennington Regnier to the firm. Georgianna practices in the areas of business and civil litigation, employment law in State and Federal courts and in administrative forums with an emphasis on Federal Civilian Employees. Georgianna will be joining Attorney Kathleen Smith at Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P., in the firm’s litigation practice. Kathi comments on the expansion of the firm’s litigation team, “I am enthusiastic about the new opportunity to work with Georgianna. Georgie is an outstanding attorney who is widely respected for practicing civil litigation in our courts for decades, and will enhance the firm’s exemplary complex litigation practice . The growth in our litigation department is an energizing increase in strength for our clients.”

Georgianna is experienced in dispute resolution and served as a court appointed arbitrator and as Pro Tem Mandatory Settlement Conference Judge for many years. She recently prevailed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on appeal from a United States Federal Court of Claims judgment. Georgianna has prevailed on groundbreaking federal anti-discrimination cases and was awarded $2,200,000 in a sexual abuse trial.

Georgianna’s license to practice extends from all California courts to Washington, D.C.  She also advises non-profit charitable corporations and serves as general counsel on various local and international boards.

Georgianna also serves as general counsel for the family owned corporation she co-founded−managing trademarks, contracts and corporate matters and overseeing operations.

Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. is a multi service law firm successfully counseling individual and business clients in matters relating to business transactions, business litigation, employment law, estate planning, real estate law, bankruptcy, non-profit law, homeowners associations, family law, intellectual property, and land use and entitlements. For more information on Schneiders & Associates, LLP, please contact us through www.rstlegal.com or call (805) 764-6370.

 

Ventura County Employment Law Attorney, Ted Schneider, Comments on the New Federal Overtime Rules Issued May 18, 2016 under the Fair Labor Standards Act

By: Ted Schneider, Esq.

On Wednesday, May 18th, the U.S. Department of Labor released their final overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Salary

Under the new rules, effective December 1, 2016, the annual salary threshold at which an employee in California can be considered exempt from overtime pay will be substantially increased from $41,600 to $47,476, or $913 per week. An employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed amount that is no less than the new threshold. The changes will affect 4.2 million workers nationwide, doubling the annual salary threshold in some states.

The Labor Department set the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage census region.  The final rule includes a mechanism to automatically update the salary level requirement every three years to ensure that it remains a meaningful test for distinguishing between overtime-protected white collar workers and workers who may not be entitled to overtime pay and to provide predictability and more graduated salary changes for employers. The Department last updated these regulations in 2004, when it set the weekly salary level at $455 ($23,660 annually).

Duties

The final rule is not changing any of the existing job duty requirements to qualify for exemption.  It is important to note that salary alone does not determine whether a worker is exempt from overtime pay.  Employers must also consider the duties of the worker and how much independent discretion they have to exercise in their duties including hiring, firing, managing, and supervising.

In addition to earning at least the new salary threshold, in California, qualifying “executive, administrative, or professional” duties must be the majority of a worker’s duties in order for the employee to be exempt from overtime pay.

While employers have some time to prepare, it is important they make sure that they’re properly classifying and paying employees, and tracking time accurately. The attorneys at Schneiders & Associates can deliver legal guidance on this and other wage and hour questions any California employer may have.

Bonuses

The Final Rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

Side Affects

Many employers already struggle with overtime costs. These rule changes affect wage and hour compliance for businesses of all sizes and can have a significant impact on their labor costs.

With the substantial increase in the number of employees eligible for overtime, it’s more important than ever for employers in California to examine their compliance with wage and hour laws. The experienced employment law attorneys at Schneiders & Associates, LLP advise employers on complex wage and hour issues.

For more information about Schneiders & Associates, LLP Employment Law services, visit our website at www.rstlegal.com. Interested clients may also contact info@rstlegal.com to schedule an appointment with an employment law attorney in our Oxnard, CA office.

Firm Receives Certificate of Appreciation from Alliance for Linked Learning

Schneiders & Associates, LLP participated in a National Job Shadow Day for the Alliance for Linked Learning sponsored by Ventura County Civic Alliance and Oxnard Union High School District. The firm hosted two high school students from the Oxnard High School Multi-Media Business Academy.

The students, one aspiring to be a business professional, and the other an English teacher, shadowed Attorney Kathleen Smith, Attorney William Starr, Finance Controller David Schneider, and Marketing Director Amber Waring. Shadowing multiple team members allowed the students to learn about the multiple operating functions of a business; including legal, finance, marketing, and office management.

The firm was pleased to accept the Certificate of Appreciation, and looks forward to continually serving the community.

 

 

William Winfield, Esq. Presented “Big 10 Cases of Interest to Bankers.”

Last month, Board Certified Bankruptcy Attorney William Winfield presented “Big 10 Cases of Interest to Bankers” to the Risk Management Association in Oxnard.

The presentation included lessons on Chapter 13, Records Withholding, Denied Debtors, Side Agreements between Banks and Borrowers, Fraud Claims, Foreclosure, Negligent Reviews, Homestead Exemption, and more.

Need a speaker? Schneiders & Associates Attorneys speak on a number of different topics to clients, businesses, chambers of commerce, non-profits, trade associations, and more. Contact Marketing & Client Relations Director, Amber Waring, at info@rstlegal.com.

Firm Adds Experienced Bankruptcy Law Attorney

We are pleased to announce that William E. Winfield has joined the firm. Bill is Board Certified in Business Bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification. Bill practices in the areas of general business law, civil litigation, real property, landlord/tenant, securities, oil and gas, bankruptcy and creditor/debtor rights. He also accepts Court appointments as a Receiver. Bill is a mediator for the United States Bankruptcy Court. He has served as a Visiting Deputy District Attorney for the County of Ventura. In addition, has been an arbitrator for FINRA and the Ventura County Superior Court, where he also served as a visiting judge.

Bill is the author of “Rejection of Non-Residential Leases of Real Property in Bankruptcy: What Happens to the Mortgagees’ Security Interest” published in the April 1990 Pepperdine Law Review.

He is admitted to the United States District Court, Central, Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of California, the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

A few of Bill’s affiliations include the Ventura County Bar Association (Chairman, Bankruptcy Section, 1994-1998), the California Bankruptcy Forum, the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Forum, the Commercial Law League of America and the American Bankruptcy Institute.

He received his legal education at the University of Utah (J.D. 1985), where he was a member of the Utah Law Review (1984-1985) and Journal of Contemporary Law (1983-1984) and is a graduate of Brigham Young University (B.A. 1982).

Bill was born in Port Hueneme, California and currently resides in Ventura.

Firm Adds Transactional & Litigation Associate

Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. is pleased to announce that William “Billy” Starr has joined the firm as an associate to assist the transactional and litigation departments of the firm.  William is a graduate of Indiana University School of Law, Cum Laude. He joins the firm after having worked for the Ventura County Counsel’s Office and as special counsel for the Compliance Department of Casa Pacifica in Camarillo.  William is involved in his community as an active member of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce and President of his local Toastmaster’s Chapter.

Ted J. Schneider, Esq. Elected to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme Board of Directors

Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P. is pleased to announce that the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme (BGCOP) has elected Ted J. Schneider, Esq. to serve on its board of directors. 

BGCOP is a non-profit human services organization dedicated to helping the youth in our community reach their fullest potential through a positive environment, lifelong learning, and quality programs dedicated to the arts, education, character and leadership development, health and recreation.

Ted practices in the areas of business and corporate transactions, employment, real estate, public law and homeowners associations.

Ted also serves on the board of directors of the Ventura County Community Development Corporation and the Economic Development Corporation of Oxnard.

Ted J. Schneider Requested to Speak for PIHRA-Burbank/Glendale Chapter

Ted J. Schneider, Esq. will present “Religious Accommodation:; Do Employers Have a Prayer?” for the Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA) Burbank/Glendale Chapter’s monthly lunch meeting on Tuesday, March 24th at the Pickwick Gardens Conference Center, 1001 Riverside Dr Burbank, CA 91506 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Ted will share numerous strategies that HR professionals can implement to ensure their organizations get their work done, while being supportive of their employee’s religious beliefs, including sharing case studies and examples.

$35 Members/ $50 Non-Members before 3/20.

For more information and to register, visit www.pihra.org.