What is a Real Estate Attorney?
A Property Attorney is an attorney, barred by the State, that specializes in transactions that involve the purchase, sale, protection and leasing of real property. A Property Attorney is essential in matters involving the purchase and sale of both commercial and residential property.
Why do I need a Real Estate Attorney?
Not all states require that an individual have an attorney when purchasing or selling real estate. Even though this is the case it is always a good idea to have representation when making such a life altering purchase. There are many documents that are involved in a real estate transaction and they can be very complex. It is important to have someone who specializes in reading and understanding these documents to better aid the client in making an informed purchase. The real estate attorney will also be helpful in identifying and correcting problems with the title, deal with security deposits, make purchase agreements and write up bills of sale. The real estate attorney will also be familiar with the laws regarding real estate in the community like zoning ordinances. If an individual is looking to purchase property for commercial reasons in an area that is classified as residential it would be a financially catastrophic event to find this out after closing.
If an individual is the buyer of real property it is essential that he/she know that the real estate agent is not their representative. The real estate agent works for the seller. It is his/her job to find the best price for the house and the real estate agents fee comes directly from what he/she can convince someone to pay for the property. By law a real estate agent is required to disclose defects and other things that may be significant. That being said the buyer of real property is at a disadvantage in the bargaining process and it will often save money and protect the buyer to have a real estate attorney.
Even if an individual decides to handle a real estate transaction on his/her own it is advisable that the individual, at the very least, have an initial consultation meeting with a real estate attorney to streamline the process and gather all the information that he/she may need to make an informed decision.
Real Estate Attorney vs. Closing Attorney?
There is a difference between a real estate attorney and a closing attorney. A closing attorney is a real estate attorney who specializes in closings. The closing attorney’s primary objective is to make sure that good title changes hands. It is his/her responsibility to research the title by looking through surveys, plats, title databases and probate records to insure that the property is free and clear of any liens, covenants or other encumbrances.
What documents do I need to bring to the Real Estate Attorney?
There are numerous documents that are essential in making a real estate transaction. The real estate attorney should be given everything that is pertinent to the matter at hand. This may include: purchasing documents; title; surveys; title insurance documents; Homeowners Common Interest Development Disclosure forms, if dealing with a condominium; inspection documents; escrow information; and lease agreements.
Experience is an important aspect of finding a real estate attorney. One of the essential aspects is the familiarity with the area in question. Real estate laws are complex and always changing. The real estate transaction not only needs to follow the laws of the State, but the local ordinances, involved in real estate. A local real estate attorney will be familiar with the title insurance companies in the area as well as the reputation of inspectors, zoning ordinances, formalities involving title research, closing procedures, and, maybe most importantly, recent home sales and selling prices of similar properties in the area.
It is important to get a real estate attorney who has experience with your specific situation. There are many types of real estate and therefore there are many different real estate specialties. A real estate attorney who works with residential property sales may know little about the commercial aspect of real estate or with landlord/tenant situations.
Rates and Fees
Rates for real estate attorneys vary by State, community, and the experience of the attorney. Many attorneys will offer a flat fee for their work, which could vary between handling the closing to involving themselves with all aspects of the transaction. If the client seeks only limited advice the attorney may put the client on an hourly rate. On average real estate attorneys fees for a residential transaction can range between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on a number of factors.
What to ask?
As with the hiring of any professional, a potential client will want to ask numerous questions to seek the right real estate attorney for the specific matter. These questions can include, but are not limited to:
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: How long have you been practicing?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: How many closing do you do in a month, year?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: Have you ever been brought up on disciplinary charges by the State bar?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: How much time will you spend on my transaction?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: What are your fees?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: What other fees can I expect to pay?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: How long have you been practicing in the community?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: How familiar are you with the seller’s real estate agency/agent?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: Exactly what is included in your fee?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: What are your past results in these matters?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: Are you familiar with title insurers, inspectors, surveyors, etc. in the community?
• Ask your Real Estate Attorneys: Is this a good time to buy/sell?