Real estate transactions may require a real estate attorney. But what should you look for when choosing someone who represents your best interests and needs to the fullest? Some states require the use of an attorney in a real estate transaction. Those states include Georgia, Massachusetts, and South Carolina.
Not all real estate issues are created equal, so when narrowing down your search for a real estate attorney, pay attention to the specialized approach of a practice. For example, one attorney may specialize in residential where another may work exclusively with commercial or landlord-tenants. It is also a good idea to distinguish what type of attorney you need. An attorney who focuses on contracts and transactions is known as a transactional attorney. While an attorney who specializes in handling claims is known as a litigant. Just because a real estate attorney can advertise that they specialize in real estate law does not necessarily mean that they are the best person for the job. Just as you would interview a real estate professional before listing your home, it is important to carefully examine an attorney before hiring one.
Here are the top 5 questions to ask when interviewing real estate attorneys:
How long have you been practicing? If the transaction is complicated, you most likely want someone who is very experienced.
What experience do you have in the field of real estate law? Answers to this will vary. But the ideal is to know where they graduated from, how many similar cases they have handled, etc.
How will my case be handled? The worst thing you can do is retain the services of an attorney only to find that they are not the ones actually working on your case. Be on the lookout for others who can help in the event that they are not licensed. Alternatively, a paralegal or junior attorney could also be assigned to the case.
What costs are involved? Fee schedules will vary from attorney to attorney and it is better to know a ballpark figure rather than be surprised with a massive bill later on. On average, an hourly rate can range from $ 150 to $ 500 +. Some companies may also require an advance before taking the case. This is not that uncommon.
Can you provide references? In the interview process, it never hurts to ask for references to see what others think of the attorney.
Doing your homework with an attorney before hiring can save you headaches in the end, as a good attorney is worth his or her weight in gold. In addition to a personal interview, you can also turn to online resources to find additional information about attorneys. You can find attorneys included in the state bar association and there are also a wide variety of lawyer referral services. A Google search will also show some results. Researching online will involve visiting attorneys’ websites to learn more about their credentials and specialties.
When conducting your search for a real estate attorney, make sure there is no conflict of interest with the representative representing you. Once you have narrowed the field down to a single attorney, you will generally be provided with a retention contract or letter of engagement that will outline in writing what you can expect regarding the fees and services to be provided. It is important that you fully understand the terms of this document, as “lawyer’s language” can be confusing. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them, as the only dumb question is the one that is not asked.
Real estate can be of great importance, so it is important to find a trusted professional who will help you in the best possible way.