Whether you want to sell a home, buy into a co-op, or invest in a commercial property across the globe, an attorney can serve as a powerful advocate in a real estate transaction. You may already be working with a real estate agent, and their insight is crucial to any sell or purchase. However, they are not licensed to give legal advice or answer legal questions, and property sales often require many legal considerations.
For example, if you want to determine whether you can get a deposit back after canceling a purchase contract, a real estate agent can only draw your attention to the terms of the contract and explain what usually happens in such situations in their experience. However, they cannot provide assurance that you will get the deposit back or advise you to file a claim against the other party for reimbursement.
For the best outcome in any real estate transaction, as the buyer or the seller, finding the right real estate lawyer is imperative. You need someone experienced, trustworthy, and dedicated to protecting your interests. With so many strong candidates out there, it can seem overwhelming to explore your options, but there are certain tips you can keep in mind during your search.
How Do You Find a Good Real Estate Lawyer?When you’re ready to begin a real estate transaction, the first step in finding the right attorney is to do your research. You can start by asking friends, family members, neighbors, or colleagues for recommendations or getting a referral from your real estate agent. The internet is a vast resource with a wide variety of lawyers to choose from, so this is where you will find most of your information. You can search online directories for local lawyers who specialize in real estate, make a list, and start checking out their websites. Looking at reviews helps you achieve a more well-rounded perspective of their services by reading how other clients have felt about their experience with the lawyer and if they would recommend them to others.
What to Look for in a Real Estate LawyerNow that you have a list of potential candidates, your next step is to set up one-on-one consultations to interview each lawyer in person or on the phone. During your conversation, focus on the following factors:
- Education and Credentials
You can learn about a lawyer’s education and credentials by searching for their name online. The American Bar Association maintains different attorney directories for each state and updates them regularly. Entering their name into Google along with your state can help you find their bar license number, which you can use to obtain information about their accreditation and whether they have been subjected to any type of disciplinary action during their career.
Lawyers are also licensed in specific areas, which means you need to ensure that they specialize in real estate law to ensure they can handle every aspect of your case. It’s important to note that education may be an indicator of competence, but it doesn’t guarantee success. Every case has different needs, and some lawyers will inevitably have more relevant experience than others when it comes to your unique situation.
- Respect and Compassion
Selling or buying a property can be a significant milestone, and you need respectful and compassionate legal representation as you navigate this process. A good lawyer will actively listen to your concerns, answer your questions with honesty and transparency, and demonstrate empathy. They should be prepared to explain the law and how it relates to your situation so you understand the potential outcome of your case and what to expect at every step. They should also be realistic about the strengths and advantages of your situation so you can make the right decisions.
The best lawyers will make you feel heard, understood, and comfortable. If the lawyer doesn’t seem like they are truly listening to you or valuing your opinion, it might be best to look elsewhere. Remember, you are the one interviewing them. Their focus should always be on pleasing the client. At the end of the interview, you should be confident that they care about you, want to help you, and will do anything in their power to deliver the optimal outcome in your case.
- Top-Notch Communication Skills
A substantial portion of a lawyer’s time is spent communicating, so this should be one of their most impressive skills. When a lawyer communicates well, they know how to make complex concepts clear and can answer your questions in a way you can understand. This is important whether you are looking for someone to help you buy or sell property, draft some legal documents on your behalf, or represent you in court. If there are any major issues during your case, you don’t want them to occur because of problems with communication or a misunderstanding of legal language.
To avoid misunderstandings and keep you both on the same page, your lawyer must speak clearly and concisely. The right lawyer has excellent verbal and written communications skills and can share a message openly and honestly even when the subject is uncomfortable to deliver. They also know how to use emotions appropriately in different situations and understand professional social boundaries. Additionally, communication is a two-way street, so they must be not only well-spoken but also show a willingness to listen.
- Good Judgment
Most people know it’s important to be cautious when choosing a lawyer. They must be skilled as well as offer good judgment. Lawyers can show they have good judgment by having a history of successful cases and an established reputation in the legal community. When other attorneys and judges respect them and take their opinions seriously, it will help every aspect of your case.
There are other ways to tell whether a lawyer has good judgment, such as speaking with them about their values, checking references from former clients, and discussing how they approach cases like yours. Be sure to ask them questions, too. It’s important that you feel comfortable with the lawyer so they can provide you with the best representation possible. Good judgment is something that can’t be faked, so if you find a lawyer who seems to have it in spades, you’re on the right track.