Buying or selling a property entails a complicated, complex process. Unexpected situations might emerge, in which the assistance of a professional becomes mandatory. This applies especially if you want to buy a foreclosure or short sale, or if you encounter complications with a simple transaction.
Nonetheless, as opposed to hiring the first lawyer that crosses your path, you should consider our checklist beforehand. Here’s what you should ask a real estate litigation attorney before making a hire.
- How Long Have You Been Practicing?
Without fear of contradiction, experience is an important consideration. As a rule of thumb, the more complicated the transaction is, the more experienced the attorney should be. Even so, it’s worth noting that experienced attorneys might charge more than beginners – and this evidently makes sense, as experience is priceless.
- Do You Specialize in Any Particular Area of Real Estate Law?
Moving on, you might consider asking whether he/she specializes in a specific area of real estate law. Of course, an attorney’s specialization is linked to the degree he/she earned. You should also find out whether the attorney has graduated at an accredited school or not. Typically, real estate laws differ by state – which is why you should inquire if they’ve been practicing law in your state.
- Have You Dealt with Cases Similar to Mine?
This also has to do with an attorney’s experience in a specific domain. But, as you might already know, each case comes with its individualities. Therefore, it would definitely be in your advantage to collaborate with a professional that is familiar with cases similar to yours. For example, a real estate litigation attorney is adequately equipped to provide legal guidance during all the steps entailing the selling or purchasing of a property.
- What Strategy Would You Use in My Situation?
Even if you aren’t really in the situation to ask for details regarding how the lawyer dealt with a specific case, it is acceptable to inquire what they would do in your situation. By asking this question, you can determine whether the attorney is really proficient and experienced in what he/she does. Essentially, you don’t want to hire a lawyer that only gives you a vague guarantee of success as opposed to a brief plan of action.
- What Fees Do You Charge?
Of course, this question shouldn’t miss your attention. If you don’t know how much an attorney charges, you might eventually realize that you cannot afford to pay for his/her services, which could lead to unnecessary complications. This is why you should ask this question, always, to ensure that those fees meet into your budget.
In addition, bear in mind that attorneys bill by the hour, and the charges range from $150 to $450 per hour. Evidently, the complexity of the case will imminently impact the rate you’ll be charged. Aside from that, you might be required to pay a retainer upfront, so that you can secure the attorney’s services. But this isn’t necessary in all cases.
While price definitely matter, it shouldn’t be your only consideration. For example, if might be worth to pay a bit more so that you can be sure that you get the outcome you expect, as opposed to saving money and eventually losing. Plus, when asking for a price estimate, you shouldn’t be hesitant to negotiate for a more convenient rate – but don’t overdo it.
- What Does Your Fee Include?
Aside from inquiring about the price, you should ask what does the fee include, so that you know what to expect. For example, some services entail reviewing contracts, loan and title commitments, handling title and closing documents, searching for liens, attending the closing, verifying that the charges are fair and accordingly, confirming the search title, and addressing your individual concerns.
Most importantly, though, a lawyer should have the capability of pinpointing when something is unusual and guide you in this direction.
- Will There Be Someone Else Working on My Case?
If you’re thinking of hiring a large attorney firm for selling or purchasing a house, you should definitely ask this question. In some situations, parts of the job are handled by junior attorneys or paralegals. Considering that this type of cases provide access to your private information, you should inquire this. It’s critical to feel comfortable with the people that have access to your info.
- How Can I Get in Touch with You?
Communication is the key for a fruitful collaboration between lawyer and customer. This is why you should ask this question before hiring a professional. How can you get in touch with the attorney in the case in which you have any questions about the case? You should feel confident that the person you hire will address your concerns and answer your questions if any complications do arise.
- Can You Offer References?
Typically, discussing with an attorney will give you a clear insight into one’s professionalism and approach to his/her profession. Nevertheless, if you want to be reassured of an attorney’s professionalism, you can always ask for if he/she can provide references. Essentially, if he/she is open to provide actual names of former clients or real estate professionals, this is a good sign that he/she feels confident about his/her reputation.
- What Issues Could Arise before Closing?
In the position of a buyer or seller, you should feel confident that the lawyer you hire will resolve any difficulties that could emerge. This could refer to disputes over repairs, appraisal issues, resolution of title issues, and the list may go on. By all means, you should avoid signing any contract without the presence of an experienced lawyer, as this could lead to unwanted complications that could be avoided.
To conclude, one thing is for sure: you shouldn’t hire a real estate attorney on a whim. This is an important tactic requiring the guidance of an experienced, skillful professional. Therefore, make sure you consider our checklist before hiring an attorney.