So you’re ready to start looking for a real estate attorney, but how to go about it?
Your best bet would of course be an attorney experienced with real estate transactions or one that specializes in real estate. You may see discount “flat fee” attorneys out there, with rates as low as $750, but real estate experts warn against these bargain buys, who might be making their real money off sneaky title insurance commissions.
As always in NYC, location matters. Though you might be tempted by a Hudson Valley lawyer charging a lower fee, it is important to find a lawyer with experience in New York City transactions.
As you most likely know, the NYC real estate scene is unique, and it’s good to have someone who can catch a seller’s curveball(s). For example, most properties in NYC are either coops or condos, so you’ll want to make sure your lawyer has negotiated a condo contract or a coop real estate contract in NYC before.
And if you’re buying a coop, make sure they have familiarity with sublease agreements, in case you want to leave in August like everyone else, and make back some of your mortgage payments.
How To Find A Good Real Estate Attorney?
As with most things real estate: starting early is the name of the game. This means you should ideally start your search for a real estate attorney at the same time you start looking for your home. You need time to do research and find a good attorney.
Another option is to work with an attorney you’re already comfortable with; ask them if they do real estate law, or if they have any trusted colleagues who do. If you don’t already have an attorney you’re comfortable with, you might ask your real estate agent, your friends and colleagues (or even Facebook) for real estate lawyer recommendations.
Another route is to contact the NY bar association for a list of attorneys specializing in real estate. This will ensure the attorney is properly licensed.
What to do once you’ve found a real estate attorney you’re leaning toward? Schedule a consultation and ask the important questions (see below). At this meeting you’ll most likely not receive specific advice relevant to your transaction, but instead an overview of the steps your lawyer will take. You may also want to do some background research on the NY State Courts website to ensure any lawyers you’re considering haven’t been subject to disciplinary action.
What Kinds Of Questions Should You Ask Before Hiring?
Ask what percentage of their practice is devoted to real estate transactions to get a more accurate snapshot of their real estate experience. They might claim to have knowledge of real estate law, but if this knowledge has never been put into practice, it won’t help you much.
Of course, you’ll be inclined to ask about their fee and what it includes. According to real estate experts, there is no standard fee. The fee can range from property to property, and fluctuate depending on a number of factors, namely the complexity of the transaction. The fee can also either be a flat rate or time-based.
Also, because you can find standard forms online, it might be a good idea to ask your attorney what they offer beyond what is readily available. If they’re simply filling in the blanks on standard forms, they may not be much help to you, as for sale by owner sales aren’t standard transactions or even transactions in some cases.
Ask your attorney what issues might arise before closing. This might include disputes over repairs, or the resolution of title issues and appraisal issues. Your attorney should be able to review the contract and make suggestions to protect you and make the process easier. Check to make sure you’re meeting the lawyer who will be doing all of your casework. Some law firms use juniors or paralegals to complete some of the work, so, during your consultation, ask to be introduced to anyone else who will handle the contract, and make sure you’re comfortable with the person before proceeding.
Once you have found a great lawyer, make sure to provide them with all of the documents related to your real estate transaction straight away—this will give them more time to become familiar with the case. After they’re well versed in the case, let them advise you on legal matters—this is what you’re paying them for! They are there to help you get the best possible outcome in your housing purchase.
Fisher Stone Small Business & Real Estate Lawyers Of Brooklyn, P.C. 88 Suydam St, Suite A, Brooklyn, NY 11221 (718) 285-9404 https://fisherstonelaw.com/