FAQ

General Questions

General Questions

Why am I better off with a lawyer rather than just a real estate agent?

A bunch of reasons.  We’ll give you the two big reasons right here. First, as lawyers, we can only represent you. Real estate agents can (and do) represent both sides in a transaction. We are only watching out for your best interests. Second, as lawyers, we are qualified and licensed to help you navigate the complexities of real estate transactions. We can review title and contracts, advise you, and negotiate on your behalf. Real estate agents are only trained and permitted to help fill in the blanks on the pre-printed forms, potentially leaving you at risk for an unexpected problem down the road.

What sort of name is “WaLaw”?

WaLaw is short for Washington Lawyers Realty. Before we became real estate brokers, we were simply lawyers practicing in Seattle. We saw the value to our clients of providing real estate broker services, but we didn’t want to forget our role as lawyers. After all, a lawyer is held to a far higher standard than a broker – a standard that we always meet and usually exceed. So when it came time to name the brokerage, the choice was easy.

How is WaLaw able to offer such a low fee?

We’re efficient and only offer the essential services for today’s savvy buyers and sellers. Real estate brokers work on a commission – and only get paid when a transaction closes. Because of that, fees are higher to cover all the transactions that don’t close. At WaLaw, we only offer the essential services buyers and sellers need yet instead charge everyone the same, reasonable fee. By giving everyone the same service, for one price, we are able to keep fees reasonable. Our fees are much lower than typical real estate agents, and even lower than low-commission “discount” real estate agents.

If you charge so much less, are real estate brokers overpaid?

Sometimes. While brokers disagree, the fact is that brokers often work without being paid because not every transaction closes. In order to make up for that unpaid time, they need to charge a premium to clients who actually do close. So if you close your transaction, you are helping to pay your broker for all of the unpaid work he has done for other clients. If you don’t close your transaction but used the services of a broker, then your broker was definitely underpaid. Hey, we’re not alone in thinking that real estate brokers are overpaid for any single transaction.

Don’t lawyers complicate things?

Some do, but we don’t. At WaLaw, we think that being lawyers AND real estate agents simplifies the process for our clients. In a transaction this significant, we can provide the legal counsel for title review, contingency negotiation, and contract review without additional costs or time. That said, we also recognize our clients’ goal: To buy or sell a house. A combative lawyer can make that difficult. We balance the need to protect your interests against your desire to complete the transaction.

Is WaLaw for everyone?

Certainly not. When you choose to work with WaLaw, you are getting some great resources that you won’t get with a traditional agent – and for a very reasonable flat fee. However, you will likely do a little more work than with a traditional agent (for buyers, doing home research online; for sellers, arranging viewings). WaLaw is best for people who want to save money, get better protection with legal representation, and are happy to put some effort into buying or selling their home.

Do I get personal attention with WaLaw?

Absolutely. WaLaw offers virtually the same service and access as a traditional agent. See our buyer and seller pages for more information.

How much can I save with WaLaw?

A lot. The actual amount depends on how much you are looking to buy or sell a home for. Check out our fee structure. As long as you’re buying or selling a home for more than $180,000, you will save money with WaLaw.

How do I get started?

Call us at 206-357-4224 or contact us.

Buying Questions

Buying Questions

Do you give home tours?

Yes. Our flat fee includes 20 hours of home tours (a “home tour” is access to a house listed on the MLS, so we’ll spend a total of 20 hours showing you these homes as part of the flat fee). If you want additional home tours, no problem — we will bill you at our rate of $75 per hour.

I’m a buyer – how much money will I save?

A lot. The commission paid by a seller to a buyer’s agent is usually 3% of the sale price. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less (particularly with homes priced over $1 million). Whatever the commission, we rebate all of it to you at closing, minus the balance of our flat fee and taxes we must pay to the state (2.215% of the commission). So, generally speaking, you save 3% of the sale price, minus our flat fee of $4995, minus a few hundred bucks in taxes. Worried you’re not getting all the services you’ll need? Go ahead and compare us to the competition. For a $500,000 home, you save nearly $10,000. Consult our chart for more details on the money you can save buying with WaLaw.

I want to buy a house – what does your flat fee cover?

Everything you need, pretty much. See our buyer page for more details

Do you help buyers with homes being sold at foreclosure?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense for you to use us as a broker if you are looking to buy at a foreclosure auction because there is no commission. So, you’d pay us a fee but there’s nothing for us to rebate you. However, it is a very good idea to hire an attorney to assist you with this kind of purchase because it can be complicated and a lot can go wrong. If you need some legal help on a foreclosure transaction, our associated law firm, Blackmon Holmes, can help you.

Do you help buyers with REO homes?

Yes. An “REO” is a home where the bank bought it at the foreclosure auction (instead of selling it to some other bidder). Usually banks will list an REO home on the MLS and offer a commission to the buyer’s agent, so you’ll get a rebate from us. But that’s not all: REO transactions include the bank’s addendum. This addendum is really one sided towards the bank, so it’s a very good idea to have a lawyer as well to protect your legal interests in the transaction. So we’re a great fit.

Do you help buyers with short sales?

Yes. From the buyer’s perspective, a short sale is a lot like a regular sale. The difference is that it can be 90 days or more until closing. On top of that, there is no guarantee of a final approval, so buyers can wait around for months only to be told that the offer was rejected. But we are an excellent fit for short sale buyers.

Selling Questions

Selling Questions

I’m a seller – how much money will I save?

A lot. The typical commission charged by a “full service” listing broker is 2 to 3% of the sale price. When you work with WaLaw, instead of paying that commission, you instead pay us a flat fee of $4995 (more if you are selling a home valued at $1 million or more). And you save the difference! On a home worth $750,000, you will save up to $17,505. Of course, there are cheaper ways to list on the MLS – as low as $500 – but you won’t get the services we provide either. Go ahead and compare us to the competition. We offer an affordable price for the most essential services you need and expect when selling your home. Consult our chart for more details on how much money you can save selling with WaLaw.

How much extra work do I need to do to sell my home when I work with WaLaw?

Not much. The only difference between working with WaLaw and a traditional agent to sell your home is that you’ll be arranging viewings of your home – instead of us. But in reality, the vast majority of buyers have their own agents who will show the home, so most of our seller clients never have to arrange a viewing. Oh, and you’ll save a ton of money when you sell with WaLaw.

Do you help sellers with short sales?

Yes. In a short sale, the bank accepts less than the full amount owed on the property, and the bank pays the commission. Because so many sellers are facing a short sale, we’ve expanded our practice — and adjusted our fee arrangement — to include these listings. Accordingly, our clients get their property on the market AND a short sale negotiator — our law firm Blackmon Holmes. See our short sale page for more information.