Choosing the right real estate lawyer is important. Real estate lawyers ensure that you follow all the laws and regulations to the letter when buying or selling property. Your real estate lawyer will work to prevent you from unintentionally breaking the law, which can delay the closing of your real estate deal or worse yet, cause costly fines.
Real estate lawyers are especially helpful in more complicated transactions such as if you are buying or selling a commercial property, a bankruptcy is involved, and other complex situations, this is why choosing the right real estate lawyer is so important. We spoke to Denver attorney Kyle Bachus of Bachus & Schanker about how to choose the right real estate lawyer:
Finding Potential Candidates
Finding the right real estate attorney for your situation will take time, don't expect to find one right away. There are many factors to consider such as experience, price, the attorney's specific skill set, and other factors. We will cover how to find potential candidates to interview, as well as how to conduct the interview process and what type of questions to ask.
Get Started Early
The first thing you should do when searching for a real estate attorney is to get started early. This will give you ample amount of time to consider enough potential candidates and find one that will suit your needs. If you wait until it is too late, then your selection process will be rushed and you may end up with someone who is unqualified or does not have the skill set for your specific situation.
You should also seek advice from friends or colleagues who have worked with a real estate attorney before. Learning from a friend's experience with a real estate attorney will give you a better idea of how the process of searching for and hiring an attorney will go. If you can, it is best to speak with someone who has hired an attorney to work on a similar real estate deal to yours, such as an estate sale or one involving bankruptcy.
Educate Yourself About the Home Buying Process
Although you will have your real estate attorney to help you navigate the buying and/or selling process, it is always best to educate yourself on these processes as well. Learning about the processes that will be involved in your coming real estate deal will better help you know what to look for in real estate attorneys' experience and skill sets when searching for the right candidate.
Start the Process With Your Budget in Mind
A real estate attorney will prevent you from potentially making very expensive mistakes during the buying and selling process, which makes them worth what they charge. However, you should be conscious of your budget when you are searching for a real estate attorney. You should budget for attorney fees only for what you need.
Most real estate attorneys charge by the hour, usually ranging from $150 to $350. Some attorneys will agree to complete specific tasks at a fixed amount, such as reviewing a document or writing up contracts. Whether you want to pay by the hour or by a fixed amount will depend on the type of real estate deal you are working on. For longer more complex deals you will usually pay by the hour, and for shorter more simple deals you will pay a fixed amount for specific services.
The Interview Process
Once you have a small pool of potential candidates to interview (We suggest at least 4-5) you will need to know what questions to ask in the interview process. Next we will cover our recommended questions to ask, but don't be afraid to ask any other questions you feel are appropriate.
How Long Have You Been Practicing and Where?
Generally, the most important quality to look for in a real estate attorney is their level of experience. The more complicated the real estate deal is, the more experience your attorney will need. Remember that with experience comes a higher price, so you should factor this in when shopping for an agent, you should try to avoid paying more than you need for an agent with more experience than necessary for your situation. It is also a good idea to ask how long the potential candidate has been practicing in the state your real estate deal will take place. Different states have different real estate laws and you will want an attorney who has been practicing in your state for at least a couple of years if possible.
Have You Worked On Cases Comparable To Mine?
What can be even more important than overall experience, is the attorney's experience with your specific type of case. Choosing a real estate attorney who has less overall experience, but is more experienced in real estate transactions similar to yours can be a good way to save on attorney fees. Also, attorneys who are more experienced in cases similar to yours will be better equipped to anticipate potential issues and hold ups of the deal, which will save you time and money.
How Would You Plan to Approach My Case?
The best way to gauge an attorney's experience in cases similar to yours is to ask them for an outline of how they would approach the deal. The more detailed plan of action they provide, the more likely it is they are the best equipped to handle your case. You should also take notes on each candidate's plan and compare them against each other, this will be one of the most important factors to consider when selecting which attorney to hire.
Will There Be Others Working On My Case?
If your real estate deal is a complex one, it is likely that your real estate attorney will not be working on it alone. You may need to hire an attorney from a firm who will have paralegals or other firm employees working on your case. If your case is handled by a firm, you may not always be able to get in touch with your real estate attorney and you will need to know who to get in contact with. Finding out if anyone will be working on your case and how that will fit into the process before hiring a real estate attorney will reduce the potential for confusion going forward. If the attorney you are interviewing works for a firm, you will also want to do research on the firm as well.
Finding the Right Real Estate Attorney is an Investment
When searching for the right attorney, keep in mind how crucial the decision is. Think of your real estate lawyer as an investment. Look to be cost effective in your selection, but do not take a risk on hiring an attorney who does not have the proper experience to save a few dollars on attorney fees. Choosing the right attorney will prevent you from making costly mistakes that could be in the thousands of dollars, or worse yet, losing your potential real estate deal altogether. If you start your search early with your budget in mind and ask the proper interview questions, you will be able to find the right real estate attorney for your situation.