How to Find a Great Real Estate Attorney
With real estate attorneys costing anywhere between $300 to $5,000 at the end of a closing, some people may want to skip that expense when buying a home. However, when dealing with complicated transactions it’s important to have a licensed professional to help with decision making. A real estate attorney can help save time and money through their experience by avoiding costly mistakes during closing.
For lots of families, their home is their biggest asset. Paying too much or buying a fixer-upper could end up being a burden for a homebuyer. It’s important to have someone in your corner when navigating difficult legal or financial territory.
If you’re thinking about hiring a real estate attorney, you want to be able to invest your money in hiring the best around. Here are 7 tips to ensure you get the best that money can buy.
1. Start Your Search Early
When you’re searching for a real estate attorney, you should begin making calls around the same time you start house hunting. This will give you plenty of time to do some short phone consultations and have conversations with several attorneys.
Finding someone who understands what you’re looking for is important. If you start your search too late, you’ll be stuck with whoever is available. Allowing yourself enough time means that you’ll have time to build a comfortable rapport with whoever you hire.
2. Ask Around
If you know other people who’ve bought homes recently, ask who they used for an attorney. Be sure to ask if they had a good experience with that attorney.Broaden your scope to colleagues and family if need be. Ask your real estate agent. They might know some great attorneys.
Make sure your attorney isn’t at all connected to the agent you use. They could be working in cahoots to get you to buy a less desirable property.
When you speak with friends and colleagues, get a feeling for how their attorney helped them. Ask questions about navigating the home-buying process and see if their attorney was any help at all.
3. Ask About Experience
When you start your search, focus on finding an attorney who is used to carrying out home sales. This should be a “residential attorney” who is well versed in real estate transactions. There are a lot of attorneys out there who have only handled a few real estate transactions who might sell themselves as what you need.
When you meet one, run a search for their name on the internet. Check with the state’s bar association website to see if they have any information. The American Bar Association’s own website has a database of real estate lawyers you could find information on.
An experienced attorney should even be able to suggest the type of home you should buy.
4. Do Some Research
Take some time to look up each and every attorney you hear about online before you call them. You should be able to find out about their educational and work history online. There should be a list of credentials you can find as well.
Look for reviews on lawyer review sites or even on Yelp. While you should always take reviews with a grain of salt, they’re not all bad.
Take a look at these lawyers’ websites and see that they can verify what they’ve told you. Also, see if there are any testimonials listed. While testimonials are curated by the lawyer themselves, they give you an idea that there are real people who’ve dealt with this lawyer in the past.
5. Interview Them
Once you’ve made a short list of attorneys to work with, start making some phone calls. Try to get some in-person meetings with every lawyer who seems interesting to you. Make sure that they all offer some kind of free consultation.
Get to know the details of their background and how much experience they have. They should have a concrete number related to how many closings they’ve performed. They should be able to also provide some clients as references.
Feel free to follow up with these past clients to see how they feel about your attorney.
Get to know if your attorney has conflicts of interest before you go into a closing with them. If they’re associated with the local home builder or the person selling you the house, they could be violating ethical standards. Even if you found them in an organic way, they should be open and communicative about their connection to your architect or sales broker.
6. Read Up
An increasing number of real estate attorneys now run their own law blogs. See if your attorney has one where you can learn more about their overall philosophy.
Also, see if there are any mentions of your attorney in the local papers. See how he’s perceived by people who have interacted with him in the past.
If your attorney runs ads, make sure they seem reasonable and tasteful to you. If they’re advertising work they’ve done or properties they’ve sold, follow up to see if that’s true.
While your attorney may have been great on the phone, they might not be as friendly when you’re sitting down next to them at the closing.
7. Sign The Dotted Line
Once you’ve picked out your real estate attorney, get to know the details of your engagement letter. This letter, also known as a retainer agreement, should spell out what you can expect from them.
It should also contain a schedule of fees. If you’ve picked a great attorney, they’ll make sure you understand everything in the agreement before you sign.
If you’re still wondering “how much does a real estate attorney cost?” by the time you sit down to sign, you should rethink your decision.
A Real Estate Attorney Should Save You Headaches
Your real estate attorney should be able to rescue you from doing irritating paperwork or spending time combing through legal documents. They’ll know which red flags to look for and how to make sure you’re getting a good deal. They’ll also be upfront with you about all of the associated costs.
If you’re considering hiring a real estate attorney for your next investment, check out our guide to the types of investments you could be making.