Find a Real Estate Lawyer
What a Real Estate lawyer can do for you
A real estate attorney can stop or mitigate a foreclosure, defend you if a real estate transaction goes wrong, or represent you as a tenant or as a landlord in cases of property damage. Whether for construction, a land-use project, or buying a home, a lawyer can negotiate your contract for you and protect your rights as a property owner.
What real estate lawyers do
Real estate lawyers can help you with almost any situation related to commercial or residential real estate. These attorneys can aid you in the buying, selling, or leasing process. They can also help you handle foreclosure, financing, document transactions, environmental issues, or negotiations over the terms of a deal.
Some states, like Georgia, South Carolina, and Massachusetts, require a lawyer’s presence for real estate transactions. In other states, including Alabama and North Carolina, you may need an attorney to help with closing procedures.
Even if you are not required to hire a real estate lawyer, consider the benefits of hiring a lawyer to review contracts or other documents in order to make sure your rights are protected. Here’s a summary of the services a real estate attorney can offer:
- Explain the legal terms of the purchase or sale contract to you, including how you will surrender or take title to the property
- Outline any defects of title and recommend actions to cure them
- Evaluate any covenants, liens, easements, and other obligations on record for the property
- Prepare all necessary documents for your home
- Explain the terms of the mortgage and negotiate with the lender to change them as necessary
- Calculate the tax liabilities associated with the purchase or sale of real estate
- Join you at the closing and review the paperwork you’ll need to sign
- Help you secure title insurance as a buyer
- Ensure that you receive a deed to the property that’s subject only to the encumbrances, such as liens or easements, that you’ve agreed to
The cost of hiring a real estate lawyer
Real estate lawyers often charged for their services at an hourly rate, ranging between $150 and $350 per hour. However, some attorneys may charge a flat rate for a specific service, like assisting with closing procedures. This is particularly common in residential real estate where the circumstances may be less predictable than in another area of law.
How to find the right real estate lawyer
Identify your legal issue. What area of real estate law do you need help with? Some real estate lawyers focus on agricultural, commercial, or residential cases. Others may have more experience with foreclosures or environmental issues.
Consider your location. Each state has its own property laws, but laws may also vary between counties and cities. A local lawyer is likely to have relevant knowledge that an out-of-town attorney may lack. If you are looking for a new home in a particular area, consider hiring an attorney who practices in that area instead of where you currently reside.
Start your search online. The Avvo directory is a good place to begin compiling your list of candidates. You can compare their experience and read reviews from past clients, then request an initial consultation with a few lawyers you’re considering hiring.
5 questions to ask your potential real estate lawyer
After you create your short list of real estate lawyer candidates, start interviewing them. Most lawyers offer a free consultation to ask a few initial questions before you commit to hiring them. Consider asking the following questions in order to assess whether or not they are a good fit for your legal issue:
- How long have you practiced real estate law?
- What types of cases have you handled that are similar to mine?
- How much do you charge?
- How would you approach my situation?
- Who will personally manage my case?
Do not hesitate to interview multiple attorneys. The attorney you choose should not only have experience with your legal issue, but also be someone you feel comfortable working with. It is important to understand the fee structure that will be used previous to beginning your work together as it will be difficult to argue a lower price in the future.