Disclaimer: There are some questions to think about when hiring an attorney for a real estate transaction in NJ. Nothing is this article is meant as legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. If you have legal questions please consult your attorney.
It can be intimidating when you think about hiring an attorney. We have so many preconceived notions about lawyers from TV and movies. What we see on the screen are typically court room dramas. Real estate law is usually very different from the long dramatic TV speeches and judges yelling “Order in the court” while slamming their gavel. Mostly work is done via email and phone and is dependent on the attorney and their office being organized, knowledgeable, and responsive.
Here are 4 Tips For Picking a Real Estate Attorney:
When Should I Get an Attorney?
You can hire an attorney before you start looking for a house all the way up to getting your offer accepted. Once your offer is accepted you’ll need to know which attorney you are using so we can send them your contract to review.
How Do I Choose An Attorney?
You can use any real estate attorney. You want to make sure that they are specifically a real estate attorney or real estate is one of their specialties. If they aren’t familiar with real estate closings it could slow down the process. Some of my clients have been attorneys (not real estate attorneys) and when they purchased their houses they hired real estate attorneys to do the closing for them because it wasn’t their area of expertise.
You also want to make sure the attorney and their office are responsive. If you left a message did they call you back in a timely manner?
Also see what their personality is like. Did you feel comfortable talking to them and like you could ask them questions? Did they listen to your concerns? Sometimes you may not have the opportunity to speak directly with the attorney but you get their para-legal or secretary. Think about the same questions I mentioned above. You will most likely be dealing with their staff a lot over the next 45-60 days as well.
What If It’s a Short Sale Or Foreclosure?
If you know there is something unique about your transaction you should confirm the attorney has experience with it. For example if it’s a short sale or a foreclosure ask if they have experience with those types of sales, how often they do them, and if there are extra costs for working on them. They can be difficult, and time consuming and you need someone who knows what the are doing and who may even have experience with the bank you are dealing with.
How Much Does a Real Estate Attorney Cost?
Definitely ask how much they charge and what it includes. Typically a real estate attorney costs between $900-$1200 for the transaction (obviously it could be more or less depending on the attorney and the amount of work). Most of the time it is a flat fee. It is typically paid for at the closing, so it is added into your closing costs. There may be other fees if the transaction is complicated liked a short sale, or if you start to buy a house and it falls through you may still be charged for the attorney’s time.
Once you find the right attorney and you have a contract that both the buyer and the seller have signed we can send your contract to them for review.