Buying a house is exciting and in 2018, more than 5.34 million people closed on new homes. But there’s more to buying a house than getting a mortgage and taking possession of the keys.

You have to close on the property. The closing process helps ensure that everything gets handled legally. That’s why hiring a real estate closing attorney is one of the best things you can do.

However, if you’ve never bought a house before, you’re probably not sure where to start. Read on to learn a few tips to help you find the right attorney quickly.

Ask the People You Trust for Recommendations

The best place to start when looking for a real estate closing attorney is to ask the people you know and trust. Talk to your friends, family, and coworkers who recently purchased a home.

Ask if they worked with a real estate attorney and get their recommendations.

If none of your friends have worked with a real estate attorney, ask them if they know of anyone who has. Remember, you’re not just able to use your network—you can use theirs as well.

The more people you can reach out to, the more likely you are to get several recommendations for attorneys in the area. Just make sure their practice is conveniently located for you.

If you work with an attorney that’s out of the city, you may find it more difficult to take care of documents and appointments.

Talk to Your Real Estate Agent

If no one you know has a recommendation for an attorney, talk to your real estate agent. Remember, your real estate agent is intimately familiar with everything that goes into buying and selling a house.

This means they’ll know who to talk to in the community and can give you a list of names quickly.

If they don’t know any attorneys personally, their coworkers and other real estate agents will. You can even use these recommendations in conjunction with the ones your friends give you to help you find the right fit for your needs and your budget.

Schedule a Consultation with Each Attorney You’re Considering

Almost all attorneys offer free consultations. This allows them to better understand how they can help you and gives you the chance to make sure you’re comfortable with the attorney.

Take the time to schedule a consultation with each attorney you’re thinking of working with. Most consultations only take half an hour, but that’s plenty of time to make sure they’re the right fit for you.

If an attorney charges for a consultation, keep looking.

Make Sure They Can Work with Your Timeframe

Unfortunately, some attorneys just don’t have the time to take additional clients. This isn’t a reflection of you or your home purchase—it just means they’re too busy at the moment.

Before you leave the consultation, discuss your ideal timeframe. Tell them when you’re hoping to close on the property and when you want to be able to move in.

If they have time for your case, great! But if not, you’ll need to keep looking.

Feel free to ask these attorneys for recommendations as well. They may know a real estate closing attorney who has more availability and can work within your timeframe.

Understand Their Fees

Before you agree to work with an attorney, make sure you understand how you’ll get charged for their services. Most legal professionals charge for their work by the hour, but some charge a flat fee for certain services.

Some firms also assess incidental expenses throughout the closing process. If you’re not aware of what these are, they could take you by surprise and increase your closing costs significantly.

Take the time to clarify your attorney’s fees. It’s okay to be blunt and ask for clear details.

If you’re comfortable with their rates and how they charge for their services, great! If not, keep looking. Just remember that you pay for experience and a cheaper attorney may not be the best choice.

Know Who Will Work on the Closing

Law firms are more than just a group of practicing attorneys. There are legal assistants, paralegals, and other support staff that help out on cases. In fact, the attorney you speak with during your consultation may not even be the one that handles your closing process.

Make sure you know who will be handling the case and see if you can meet them before you agree to anything. If you’re not comfortable with anyone working on the case, it’s best to keep looking.

Ask for References from the Real Estate Closing Attorney

If everything about the attorney and their support staff seems great, ask them for references before you sign a contract. All reputable attorneys have references who are willing to speak to their abilities and share their experiences with you.

Should an attorney not have references or refuse to give them to you, walk away. But if you do get a list of references, make sure to follow up with them.

When you speak with their past clients, ask about their experiences and whether they would hire the closing attorney again. If the answer is yes, you should feel comfortable hiring them for your home purchase.

If those references all raise similar concerns or share similar issues, proceed with caution. Chances are, if their past clients had problems, you will, too.

Hire Them and Start the Closing Process

Once you find an attorney that fits your needs and your budget, don’t wait. Hire them as soon as you’re comfortable and let them represent your interests at the closing appointment.

There’s more to closing than signing paperwork. Your attorney needs to make sure the documents are in order and that everything gets signed by the right parties. They’ll help you make sure the closing goes off without a hitch.

Are You Ready to Buy a Home?

If you’re ready to buy a home, don’t put off the search for an experienced real estate closing attorney. The sooner you start looking, the faster you’ll be able to get into your new dream home.

Ready to schedule a consultation? Contact our team today and meet with our experienced real estate law experts to discuss your closing.

Bryan De Bruin

Bryan De Bruin is a Real Estate and Business Law attorney serving Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate. Bryan is proud to guide clients through the legal process and makes sure that every client understands each phase of their case, so that they are prepared for what happens next.