Real Estate Lawyers
There are now over 813,900 lawyers throughout the US. When you need help with real estate, however, you’ll need to narrow down your options. Finding a qualified real estate lawyer could save you valuable time and stress in the long run.
What is a real estate lawyer, exactly? What does a real estate lawyer do? Which commercial real estate lawyer should you hire for legal help?
In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about hiring a real estate lawyer. Then, you can make a more informed decision before requesting legal help.
Practice Areas for Real Estate Law:
- Agent Representation
- Broker Representation
- Individual Homeowner Representation
- Landlord and Tenant Representation (Commercial Leasing and Residential Leasing)
- Homeowner Association
- Property Management Companies
- Fiduciary Litigation
- Loan Negotiation and Documentation
- Entitlements and Development
- Fire Losses
What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
A real estate lawyer’s job is to understand the rules and regulations involved with real estate transactions. They can use their knowledge to help clients understand contracts and other essential legal documents.
What does a real estate lawyer do, then?
Your real estate lawyer can also help with:
- Zoning issues
- Mortgage fraud
- Overseeing the transfer of deeds and titles
- Negotiating on your behalf
- Verifying whether a commercial or residential property has a lien
- Determining if a property has a restrictive covenant or other issues
Real estate lawyers can work with either corporations or individuals. Purchasing a home or real estate is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. A real estate lawyer can help you through every step. They can negotiate the transaction and guide you through the rest of the legal process. In fact, some states even require you to have a real estate lawyer present during closing.
Even if your state doesn’t hire one, you might want someone there to represent your best interests. Your real estate lawyer can review the necessary paperwork in advance. They can also advise you regarding any problems or omissions you need to consider.
Real Estate Law
Real estate law covers the purchase and sale of real property. “Real property” covers both land and any structure on it.
These laws also encompass any legal issues related to what’s attached to a structure or property, such as fixtures and appliances. They cover property taxes, estate planning, zoning, titles, and deeds, too.
Remember, some states require lawyers to supervise real estate transactions. These laws can vary based on the local and state government. When choosing a real estate lawyer, make sure they’re licensed to practice in your state.
Your residential or commercial real estate lawyer will need to keep up-to-date with any relevant laws and procedures. Otherwise, new state or local developments can impact your real estate transaction.
Hiring a lawyer will ensure all parties follow the property procedures.
When to Hire One
First, determine whether or not your state requires you to have a real estate lawyer present. These “attorney closing states” include:
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Some states are considered “attorney title opinion states.” These states include:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
In these states, a lawyer is necessary to certify the title.
If the transaction is completed in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Ohia, you’re not required to have a real estate lawyer present. However, lawyers in these states are usually involved with transactions according to local practices.
If you don’t live in the states mentioned above, it’s up to you whether or not to call a real estate lawyer. Hiring one will ensure someone keeps your best interests in mind, though.
If you don’t have a broad understanding of real estate law, consider consulting a real estate lawyer. They can help you navigate any complex situation.
For example, you might want to call a lawyer if you’re dealing with a short sale or foreclosure.
You might want to hire a lawyer if there are any out-of-the-ordinary elements involved in the contract, too. Your lawyer could help minimize the number of contractual issues in the future.
Otherwise, consider hiring a lawyer for peace of mind. You’ll have confidence that, if anything goes awry, they’ll step in to help.
You can rely on their professional experience and expertise to make more informed decisions moving forward.
Finding the Right Lawyer
Now that we’ve answered the question “what does a real estate lawyer do,” let’s discuss finding the right lawyer for your needs. Here are a few simple tips that can help you find a residential or commercial real estate lawyer.
With these tips, you’ll have an easier time narrowing down your options. You’ll have peace of mind knowing a qualified lawyer is there to help.
1. Experience and Expertise
Start your search by speaking with people in your inner circle. Ask if any of them can refer you to an experienced real estate lawyer. If they can’t, head online.
Check your local bar association website and the Martindale-Hubbel directory. Start making a list of lawyers to research further.
Make sure the lawyers on your list have years of experience working with real estate law. You can have confidence in the abilities based on their prior experience.
Determine how long each lawyer has worked in the industry. Consider how long they’ve specialized in real estate law, too. If they only recently switched specialties, consider looking for someone with relevant experience.
Make sure the lawyers you consider have experience specific to your needs, too. For example, you might want to look for a commercial real estate lawyer. If you’re buying a home, look for a residential real estate lawyer instead.
Choosing a lawyer who falls under the right specialty will ensure they understand the laws relevant to your situation.
Someone who lacks the experience you need, on the other hand, could waste your time.
2. Updated Qualifications
Check your local bar association website to make sure each lawyer on your list has their credentials in order. If their license isn’t up-to-date, scratch them off your list.
Make sure they’re licensed to practice law in the state where the transaction will take place. Remember, some laws can vary based on your location. Look for someone who has years of experience practicing in your state, too.
3. Recent Work
Handling real estate paperwork is the number one problem for about 20% of buyers. You’ll have peace of mind knowing a qualified lawyer is there to help. Before making your choice, ask each lawyer about their recent results.
You can make sure they have the know-how necessary to handle your situation.
For example, you might only need to find a real estate lawyer who can help prepare the documents you need. Maybe you need them to negotiate with a lender instead.
Make a list of the services you’re interested in. Then, find a real estate lawyer with experience handling those situations.
For example, can they help with real estate closing and quiet title actions? Choose someone with the know-how and abilities you need.
4. References and Reviews
If you want to find the best real estate lawyer in your area, head online. Look for references and reviews. You can check their BBB and Google My Business listings as a place to start.
You might find one or two negative comments. That’s normal. If the bad reviews overshadow the good, consider scratching that lawyer off your list.
You can also ask the lawyer if you can speak with some of their recent clients. Ask each client about their experience. Would they hire that same lawyer again?
5. Schedule a Consultation
Schedule a consultation appointment with at least three lawyers on your list. Ask them any questions you weren’t able to answer through your own research. Have a list of questions prepared ahead of time, such as:
- What situations do you handle most often?
- Were you able to accomplish your client’s goals?
- How long have you practiced real estate law?
- How long have you practiced in the area?
Make sure you feel confident in your lawyer’s abilities. Ask about their availability as well. If they’re juggling too many clients at once, they might pass you off to a junior lawyer.
Make sure you know who will handle your case.
6. Compare Costs
How much does a real estate lawyer cost?
Costs can vary based on which services you need. How the real estate lawyer plans to bill you can impact the cost, too.
For example, some lawyers will charge you a flat fee for specific services. Others might choose to work based on an hourly fee.
For example, a lawyer might charge anywhere between $150 and $350 an hour.
Ask at least three real estate lawyers on your list for a quote and copies of their contracts. Gathering multiple quotes can help you better gauge the average. Don’t make your choice solely based on price, though.
Instead, make sure to review the rest of your notes. Make sure to choose a real estate lawyer who has the right qualifications and experience.
Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer: Everything You Need to Know Beforehand
Hiring a real estate lawyer can give you peace of mind before you buy or sell real estate. Don’t rush to hire the first lawyer you find, though. Instead, use these tips to vet your options. You’ll feel confident in your lawyer’s abilities to keep your best interests in mind.
Want to discuss your situation with a team you can rely on? We’re here to help. Contact us today at Heidari Law Group for a free case evaluation.