Question #3

What are the things I need to look for when hiring a real estate attorney?

Most real estate agents are not licensed to practice law, and don’t have the legal training to alert you about issues that could be costly to fix down the road.

On the flip side, just because an attorney says they practice real estate law doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you or qualified to handle your case. When choosing a real estate attorney, be sure to ask these questions to make sure you’ve got the fit that is right for you.

Ask “How long have you been practicing real estate law?”

Before you hire an attorney, it is helpful to determine how much real-life legal experience she or he has in the area of real estate law.

An attorney who doesn’t practice real estate law on a regular basis will likely be unaware of important recent changes in the law, which can cause delays that can cost you time and money.

Ask “How many transactions like mine have you handled?”

Not all real estate matters are created equal. Ask if the attorney has dealt with transactions similar to yours. If they have, they will be better able to foresee potential problems and head them off.

Keep in mind though, while every real estate transaction is unique, some people may have a truly unique and unprecedented situation that even a veteran attorney has not encountered.

This is when an experienced attorney will dig in and do her best to help you find the solution to your specific problem.

Ask “How will you handle my transaction?”

You should be able to ask an attorney for a brief overview of what she or he plans to do on your behalf.

An experienced attorney who practices real estate law should be able to give you a rough outline of the actions that need to be taken for your transaction.

Feel free to ask questions about any components you do not understand.  Your first telephone conversation is a perfect time to decide whether this attorney is right for you.

Ask “Who else will be working on my case?”

Some law firms hand off the initial work on cases to a junior attorney, a paralegal or someone knowledgeable about the law, but not necessarily to a licensed attorney.

During your initial consultation, ask who will do the most work on your legal matter and make sure you’re comfortable with that person before proceeding. This is the best time to determine whether you have a rapport with that person and whether you’re getting the kind of attention you want.  You should choose an attorney who makes you feel at ease.

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