When you buy or sell real estate there is always that chance that a situation will arise that will make it smart to have a legal professional advising you how to proceed. This is especially true if you're planning to invest in real estate. If you're not a professional already, you may not be aware of some of the legal pitfalls that could put you at risk for loss. It's a good idea, just to be on the safe side to retain a real estate attorney, but how do you find one that is suitable and reputable? If you don't already know a real estate lawyer that you trust, here are 10 questions that you should ask a potential real estate lawyer before you retain their services.
1. How long have you practiced real estate law?
This is an important question to ask because the more experience an attorney has in this specialty, the better. A more inexperienced real estate lawyer may have the best of intentions, but they have probably not had as much exposure to unique situations. A seasoned attorney has had more time to experience unusual legal situations and they may have additional insight that could save you a lot of hassle and expense.
2. What are your specialties within real estate law?
Some lawyers focus their practice on certain aspects of real estate law. They may be well-qualified in one area, but not as experienced in another. If you're planning to get into real estate investment, then you'll want an attorney who is well versed in this area of real estate law.
3. How long have you been practicing in this state?
Real estate laws may vary from one state to another. If you're familiar with what it takes to become a licensed real estate professional such as an agent or a broker, then you'll know that the tests to become licensed are different among various states because the laws are different. It's not a lot different when it comes to choosing a real estate attorney. They may be familiar with the laws in a different state than the one that they're currently practicing in. While some aspects of the real estate law are general across the board, some legal issues are state specific.
4. Is their law degree from an accredited law school?
This is an important question to ask, but you may want to do a little research on your own. The lawyer that you are considering should have a verifiable degree from an accredited law school. The attorney should also have passed the bar exam. It's also important to make sure that the lawyer has not been disbarred and does not have any strikes against their record in other states. There are some attorneys who are practicing law but are not in solid standing for keeping their credentials. When it comes to real estate investment you need an honest attorney with integrity for your own protection.
5. Does the attorney have skilled staff?
Often, the staff of paralegals working for a real estate attorney does a lot of the legwork involved. It's a good idea to inquire about the staff and a good way to do this is to check customer reviews online. Find out about what other people have to say about the services they received.
6. How much does the attorney cost for services rendered?
It's never a bad idea to compare the prices that a few of the certified and reputable real estate attorneys charge. You don't want to end up paying more than you have to for legal services. While you usually get what you pay for, it doesn't mean that you need to break the bank with the highest priced attorney in town.
7. Has the attorney handled cases that are similar to yours?
This question is especially important if you're dealing with a unique real estate case. There are so many scenarios that can arise, that it's wise to retain an attorney that is familiar with the type of situation you're dealing with so they won't miss any important details.
8. Will the attorney give you a cost estimate?
As a consumer, you should be apprised of the average range of costs that you will incur by retaining a real estate attorney. While he or she may not be able to give you a precise statement of cost, they can give you an estimate that includes their hourly rate and charges for any special services.
9. Will the attorney offer you a detailed action plan?
You have the right to know how your attorney plans to handle your case. This should include a detailed plan of action. This lets you know that they're on top of the situation, how it's unfolding, what may happen, how the lawyer plans to address it and what billable actions they will be taking on your behalf.
10. Do I need an attorney for this type of transaction?
If you're new to real estate, then a reputable lawyer can advise you about when you need to retain legal services and when you don't. Some real estate transactions are simple but others are more complicated.
Written by Garrett Parker
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