Real Estate Watch: How to choose a real estate attorney

Lately, I have had numerous calls from my senior crowd, about how one might choose an attorney to represent them, whether one is a seller or purchaser of a home, condo, Homeowner Association)and coop.  

It is extremely important to know several things about the person you will be choosing:

1. How long have they have been practicing real estate law (choose someone who does this full time, and knows the ins and outs of these types of sales).  I have seen several times in the past, people using their family attorneys, who really never practiced real estate law and some issues arose, which caused deals to either radically slow down or not finish)

2. Ask for 3-5 referrals of people they have represented over the number of years they have practiced, oldest to most recent.

3. If you still have friends in the area, you can always ask them for a referral (but I would still ask pertinent questions to your satisfaction, to make sure that you feel comfortable ( your friends might light chocolate and you might like vanilla) different strokes for different folks, as they say!

4. If selling or purchasing a coop, condo or HOA, do they have expertise in that type of transaction.

5. How do they communicate by phone or email or both.  (I am doing a deal at the moment, where the attorney has yet to call me, because he appears to only work by email, which for some may work, but I still think a phone call or 2 should be mandatory to the agents involved in the sale)

6. Ask about what they charge and what is included from the beginning to the end (some attorneys will charge $695-2500 (New York City attorneys are at the higher end due to higher costs), but one might ask if they are providing a complete service(from soup to nuts) and how will they communicate; how fast do they return your call, will there be any extras, etc  

My old adage is, “Cheap is Expensive and Expensive (or fairly priced) is Cheap!”

7. If it is an estate sale, an approved short sale(value is less than your mortgage). a property with more than two owners or any complicated situation, explain this to the attorney, to find out if there is any extra cost up and above their standard fee. Also, if there is a sit down contract (which in some instances I truly suggest and recommend in the current hot market) or how far will they travel for a closing without extra costs involved? 

8. Ask, if he or she has any plans on vacations at the time of the closing, then, who will be representing you?

9. Begin your search when you truly decide about selling or purchasing, so you will have legal counsel to discuss any issues that may come up.

10. Make sure you have the attorney send you an email with his charges and specific items that will be covered from start to finish; no one likes surprises.

Philp A. Raices is the owner of Turn Key Real Estate in Great Neck.  He can be reached by email: [email protected] or by cell, (516) 647-4289 to answer any of your questions.  To search for property or see what your home is worth or homes that have sold in your area, go to www.Li-RealEstate.Com

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