With over 5 million residential real estate transactions per year, people can become overwhelmed with the process of buying and selling. It might be time to get a real estate attorney to assist you.
If you want to ensure you're legally safe, then you'll need to vet the attorney properly. Make sure you ask these questions before making the final hiring decision.
1. How Much Experience Do You Have?
The longer the attorney has been working, the more scenarios and variety of cases they have handled. You want a legal representative who can deal with any situation.
Are you going through the simple processes of buying or selling? Do you disagree with something in the contract? A real estate lawyer can help guide you through the process.
For situations that are more complicated like a lawsuit or possible fraud case, you want the most experienced attorney fighting for you. If you purchased a house but the home inspector and selling agent lied, you'll need to take them to court.
No matter your current or future situation, make sure you find out if the lawyer has the experience you need.
2. What Are Your Fees?
If you are planning to buy a home soon, you will have a set budget on what you can spend for a lawyer. How much an attorney charges can depend on a few variables.
Here are some of the most common factors:
- Type of real estate transaction
- Size of the deal
- Lawyer's current schedule
For simple transactions where you just want a lawyer to read over paperwork to avoid miscues, then you may only have to pay a flat fee. Deals that are larger and more complex may cost you $100-$400 per hour.
Great lawyers are going to be busy. To get their services, you may have to pay a monthly retainer or fee that reserves time with them.
Some attorneys are willing to help you avoid spending money from your pocket. Instead of upfront payment, they will take a percentage cut of the sale or purchase of a property.
Avoid possible problems in the future by figuring out their price now.
3. Can You Give Me a Plan of Action?
You are looking to hire a real estate attorney because there's a good chance you don't know much about real estate law. However, you should still ask for a plan of action.
A competent lawyer will walk you through the steps of their process. They will ensure you understand the reasons behind every move.
Their plan of action should come with an open line of communication. Life rarely goes according to plan, so it's important to be aware of updates.
Ask the lawyer how easily accessible they are. You should be able to get a return call or email within a business day. Most reputable law firms will have an emergency line in case something needs immediate attention.
4. Are You the Only Real Estate Attorney on the Case?
If you are looking at a big law firm, there's a good chance you may have a team of associate lawyers and paralegals helping. You should be comfortable with everyone involved.
Ask a potential attorney if they will be the only person on the case. Getting passed off to another lawyer doesn't feel personal or helpful.
Real estate cases can be humiliating. People who are guarded about their personal dealings and transactions don't want lots of strangers knowing their business.
Do you want to consistently work with one lawyer for a personal experience? Be forward about your expectations regarding who will work with you.
5. Why Should I Choose You Instead of Another Lawyer?
Asking this question isn't meant to hurt anyone's feelings. The truth is that there are a lot of real estate lawyers offering their services.
Part of their answer will depend on what you value. Do you prefer quick deals? Do you want to be completely hands-off?
Strong competition should push area lawyers to reach their full potential. Ask an attorney what makes them better than the surrounding firms. Their answer should be straight forward and concise.
Be wary of attorneys who ramble without actually answering the question.
Most law firms will jump at the opportunity to brag about themselves in front of a potential client. Make them pitch their services to you in hopes that they bring their best abilities to court.
6. Have You Had a Case Like Mine?
You'll want a strong legal representative for complex real estate matters. With their years of experience, has the law firm seen a case like yours? More importantly, how did they do with that case?
Ask about possible obstacles in your case and how they can overcome them. A great attorney will also know the other party's strategy and their plan of action.
If the lawyer you speak to doesn't have familiarity, it's possible someone else in the firm has dealt with your case.
7. Do You Have References?
When you meet with a lawyer for an initial consultation, you get to hear them talk and see how they handle questions. As a possible client, they are going to roll out the red carpet for you.
Ask for a list of recent references to get a better picture of the lawyer. A professional reference can tell you how they operated under pressure and their weaknesses.
If a real estate attorney cannot provide a list of references, take it as a sign that people are not happy with the representation they received.
Start the Interview
The future of your real estate transaction depends on the questions you ask. A real estate attorney who answers confidently can make your life easier.
The right real estate legal professional can answer your questions, review documents, and argue cases for you in court.
Don't wait any longer. Get the right attorney who will fight for you by contacting us today.