l. Recognize that "you don't know what you don't know" regarding real estate contracts. What is not stated in a contract is often as important to you as what is. If a term is unfamiliar, don't gloss over it. It can impact you financially, sometimes to a great and unpleasant degree.
2. "A title company" cannot represent you. It cannot "prepare your deed". (Don't listen to glib "advice" from real estate agents or lender's employees about this issue.) There is only one right way, in essence, to prepare a deed or purchase agreement. A properly-prepared deed takes about one minute for a competent attorney to review. As often as not these days, deeds are not prepared correctly. Sometimes they are prepared by clerical, non-legal staffers, who type an attorney's name on them and an attorney never sees the deed. In my opinion, this is unethical if not illegal. In sum, have an attorney who knows what he or she is doing review all documents. Only experience teaches the many "tricks of the trade" employable to do things fairly and correctly for both parties to any sale. A buyer's and seller's needs differ significantly, but parties do not have to be opposed to one another.
3. A "For Sale By Owner" transaction can invariably be simple, quick, and virtually foolproof if done correctly. My fees are "hourly," and 95% of the time I will quote a "fee cap", in writing, in advance for you to accept.
4. Most real estate agents act ethically and quite competently. However, your ears should perk up if you hear buzzwords like: