Finding a good real estate lawyer is one of the most important aspects of buying and selling a property. A real estate lawyer represents your personal interests in the deal and will keep your priorities in mind. Neil Sullivan, a respected real estate lawyer and Managing Partner of Sullivan McMullan, shares his criteria for choosing the best real estate lawyer and gives several examples of when a real estate lawyer is needed.
Don’t wait until the last minute to choose a real estate attorney. It is important to start searching for a real estate attorney at the same time you begin looking for a new home. This will give you plenty of time to conduct a careful search using all of the information available to you.
First, check with your friends and business associates. Find out whom they have used as a real estate attorney and ask for their honest opinion. Real estate attorneys should be professional, knowledgeable, and easy to work with. They should also be focused on helping you close the deal. Be sure that you find a real estate lawyer who is experienced in buying and selling properties. It helps if they have a cordial working relationship with area realtors.
If you can’t find a real estate lawyer in your area, you can use a lawyer who works in multiple disciplines, often referred to as a “general practitioner”. You may find, however, that a general practitioner may not be as service-oriented as a dedicated real estate lawyer.
Contact the Bar Association
If you don’t have any referrals, a good place to start is the local bar association or law society. They should have updated lists of lawyers by specialty. You can then choose from a large pool of possible lawyers. If you go through the association, you can also be certain that your chosen attorney is fully licensed.
Your state bar should also be able to tell you whether lawyers have studied for specialties like real estate law. Not all states have certifications for specialty lawyers.
Another valuable resource for finding a real estate lawyer according to Neil Sullivan is the use of online reviews. Keep in mind that dissatisfied clients may give a lawyer bad reviews if they didn’t like the results of their case. Reading multiple reviews across different sites should give you another balanced perspective on hiring your lawyer.
Have a Consultation
Most attorneys will be happy to set up free consultation appointments so that you can get a sense whether they are skilled and easy to work with. It is wise to consult more than one attorney and compare their qualifications.
Make Sure You Understand Their Fees
If you have not worked with a lawyer before, you might be surprised at the billing system in place. You should find out whether the lawyer charges by the hour or whether they charge a flat fee for their services. Find out whether they will require you to pay a retainer fee.
As you choose a real estate lawyer, find out how much experience they have. A young lawyer who is just starting out may be most familiar with the newest changes to the law, but an experienced lawyer may be your best bet. Choosing someone with a long track record in the specialty means that he or she will have seen situations similar to yours in the past. He or she will be able to deal with unexpected events in a timely and professional fashion.
Choosing Your Real Estate Lawyer
Neil Sullivan has offered these tips for choosing a real estate lawyer. Real estate lawyers are incredibly valuable in the process of buying and selling any type of property. When your prospective lawyer has answered all of your questions to the best of their ability, contract them to work on your house purchase or sale. Rely on their expertise to get you through the possibly difficult situations that may occur when you are buying or selling a home. Above all, you should be sure that your attorney has your interests firmly in mind.
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