Are you looking to buy or sell real estate and wondering if you need to hire a real estate lawyer? This article will set you on the right path to making an informed and well thought out decision.
Real estate lawyers are educated in the areas of legal transactions, can help advise, guide, and oversee all aspects of the buying and selling process. They are especially important when disputes occur, and help the transaction come together in an amicable manner that is fair to all parties.
When Should You Hire a Real Estate Lawyer?
The first step is to determine if the state you are buying or selling in requires a real estate lawyer to be present at closing. You can find a detailed breakdown of what state requirements are here.
If you determine that you are not required by law to have a real estate lawyer but are still wondering if you should, there are a variety of situations that make a sale or purchase more complex.
In the following cases, it is often best to hire a Real Estate Lawyer for your own benefit, even if you aren’t legally required to.
Reasons to hire: buyer
- Investment Property
- Short sale, bank owned, or foreclosure properties
- For sale by owner properties
- Part of an estate sale
- Potential structural issues
- Located in a flood or natural disaster zone
- Commercial properties
Reasons to hire: seller
- Selling a property that is in a state of distress
- Uncooperative partner
- Selling for a deceased owner
- Judgments or liens on the property
- Tax concerns
- Post sale problems
Choosing a Real Estate Lawyer
Once you have made the decision to bring on a real estate lawyer, the idea of picking one may seem daunting. It will benefit you to have a series of questions prepared to ask potential lawyers to help determine if they are a good fit for your circumstances. The five questions listed below are a great starting point but do not feel limited to these, as it is important to ask questions based on your personal situation.
1. How long have you been practicing?
Experience is gold in this position, therefore you want to make sure the person you are considering knows the ins and outs of the industry and is prepared for the issues that could arise. This is a good time to find out what portion of their practice is devoted to real estate cases and whether or not they have handled cases similar to yours in the past.
2. What is their plan of action?
If they have been involved in cases similar to yours, they should have a general plan of attack for handling your case. This plan should be brief but detailed, easy to understand and not just a vague assurance that they will take care of things.
3. What are your fees?
It is always a good idea to inquire about fees before signing yourself up to work with a real estate lawyer. This will both prepare you for the added expense in your budget and provide you with information on what services the fees include.
4. Will anyone else be working on my case?
When hiring someone to aid in such a large personal purchase or sale you want to make sure you are comfortable with sharing all information with them and that you can trust they will be there to provide help if and when concerns arise. Due to this, it is a good idea to ask if anyone else will be working on your case so you can meet them and make sure you are comfortable with all parties involved before deciding to hire.
5. Can you provide references?
Not only is their willingness to provide you with these contacts good reassurance that they are confident with their reputation, it is also encouraging to speak with someone who has actually worked one-on-one with the person who you are considering to help with such a personal endeavor.
Real estate lawyers, unlike real estate agents, are not only equipped with the knowledge and experience to help protect you but are legally obligated to protect your best interests. This added layer of protection could save you a lot of frustration and money if a situation of dishonesty occurs.