How To Hire A Real Estate Attorney

Especially in the area of residential real estate, many transactions are completed using standardized forms and templates. However, even these documents may contain vague or unclear terms that can result in costly complications. A qualified real estate attorney can draft a sales agreement and review financial records, ensuring that all wrinkles are ironed out before closing. In fact, some states require a closing attorney to close a real estate transaction, for this very purpose. A real estate attorney can offer expert advice in matters of property deeds and title, assess tax liability, and prepare transfer-of-title documents, lease contracts, and mortgage contracts. At a minimum, buyers and sellers should consider having a qualified real estate lawyer review all documents before signing a binding contract or purchase agreement. This becomes even more important in the areas of commercial real estate and investment real estate. With larger, more complex real estate transactions, the commercial real estate attorney can guide a client through potential tax debt, zoning and environmental issues, and the purchase of bank-owned commercial property. Whether you are purchasing a first home, vacation rental, multi-family investment property or commercial property, an experienced real estate attorney can help ensure a smooth transaction. Here’s how to find an hire the right attorney for your needs.

  1. Make sure your attorney has deep experience and history in real estate law.
  2. Understand the different legal costs for residential real estate services vs. commercial real estate transactions.
  3. Confirm that you will receive specialized counsel and personalized treatment.
  4. Don’t think a cash transaction automatically negates the need for legal representation.

Make sure your attorney has deep experience and case history in real estate law.

Buying or selling a home, an investment property, or a piece of commercial real estate is a major financial transaction, so it’s important to have confidence in the process. Experts suggest choosing a real estate lawyer who has specific real estate law experience. Ideally, the person should be tech-savvy and easy to reach by phone or email. It’s also wise to choose a real estate lawyer who takes the time to answer any questions you have, and is willing to explain the ins and outs of transactions in a patient, informative manner. Depending on your situation, look for extensive, successful case history in one of more of the following areas:

  • Zoning issues
  • Survey issues
  • Title insurance
  • Mortgage contingencies
  • Discrimination
  • Disclosure issues
  • Eminent domain
  • Commercial lease disputes
  • Contract disputes
  • False advertising
  • Construction-related disputes
  • Foreclosures

Hourly rates for real estate attorneys range from $150 to $350, while some attorneys prepare purchase agreements and closing documents for a flat rate. However, these fees may or may not be inclusive. Additionally, services related to complex transactions involving foreclosures, commercial buildings, multifamily dwellings, or new developments may cost considerably more.

Confirm that you will receive specialized counsel and personalized treatment.

Hiring a real estate attorney is a critical decision to ensure that the transaction goes off without a hitch. You may may want to ask the following questions before hiring an attorney:

  1. How long have you been practicing real estate law?
  2. What is your primary practice area?
  3. Will you be present at the closing?
  4. Who will handle the actual transaction?
  5. How much real estate experience do you have?
  6. Does your firm handle residential or commercial transactions?
  7. Who at the firm is available to answer my questions during the transaction process?
  8. How much will it cost?
  9. Are your fees due up front or at closing?
  10. Is it possible to speak with two previous clients?

Roughly half of all states, including the District of Columbia, require a real estate attorney to handle the closing, regardless of whether the building or land is residential or commercial, or how the buyer is paying. Even if an attorney isn’t needed, legal representation ensures that both parties are adequately protected. A real estate lawyer can assist with the title search, review legal disclosures regarding the property’s condition, and assess weather-related issues, such as flood zones. A lawyer will ensure that taxes and transfer fees are properly calculated and that the sales contract spells out all relevant details and contingencies. An effective representation can protect the buyer and seller from lawsuits and third-party claims. An attorney’s assistance is often vital when purchasing a damaged or bank-owned property or a home that’s under probate.

Ready to speak to a lawyer? Here’s our list of the best real estate attorneys near you.

 Disclaimer

The materials provided in this article are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Use of and access to this article or any of the links contained in the article do not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user or browser. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.