Real estate can be a very litigious industry and since about 50% of Americans own real estate, many of us may need a solid real estate attorney at some point on our lives.
Picking the right person might just save you thousands of dollars, time and frustration so I’ll layout some tips on picking the right one for your real estate situation.
1) Figure out which area of real estate your issue or question falls into
Do you have a legal question on a rental property you own? Are you trying to sell commercial real estate and need state specific real estate contracts? Are you a home buyer under contract to purchase a home but the seller has backed out of the purchase and sale agreement without legal cause?
Most real estate lawyers specialize in a particular segment of real estate law so you want to choose someone who is an expert in the issue(s) you’re facing. For example, you don’t want a commercial real estate lawyer trying to help you with a residential investment property question, do you?
2) Ask what the real estate lawyer’s fees are
Do they charge a retainer? An up front fee? An hourly fee? Or do they only charge a fee after services have been rendered? It’ll make a big difference depending on how much and when you’re willing to pay. Do you want to pay a large retainer fee up front or would you rather pay your them on an hourly basis?
You’ll find that the fees real estate attorney’s charge can vary and it isn’t always tied to how experienced or knowledgeable they are. Don’t simply pick the cheapest lawyer thinking you’re getting a deal. You may just end up getting terrible legal advice and/or service and end up paying another real estate lawyer more to fix the problem.
3) Get referrals of past clients
When you’re interviewing real estate lawyers, it’s perfectly fine to ask how long they’ve been in business and who they’ve performed real estate services for in the past. They may not be able to give you exact names but they may have testimonials or letters of recommendation or possibly helped a well known person in the community that would lend credibility to their level of expertise.
Obviously, you want a real estate lawyer with some decent experience so you may want to steer clear of the newbie that’s right out of law school. Then again, if they’re competent and knowledgeable, you just might get a good deal but it won’t come without taking a bit of risk.
Bottom line, choosing a real estate lawyer is much like choosing any other professional. You’ll want to see who’ve they’ve performed work for in the past, how long they’ve been in business, what they charge and the general feeling you get from meeting and talking with them. If you follow these steps, you should be able to find the right guy or gal to help you navigate the real estate issue you’re facing.