5 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Attorney

Law officeWhen questions arise on a real estate transaction, most people call their agent or broker.

When the deal is complicated or risky, it’s smart to consult with a real estate attorney too.

1. How long have you been practicing?
Before you hire an attorney, it is helpful to determine how much real-life legal experience he or she has.
 2. How many cases like mine have you handled?
Not all real estate matters are created equal. Ask if the attorney has dealt with transactions similar to yours. If he has, he will be better able to foresee potential problems and head them off.
3. How would you handle my case?
It’s not out of line to ask an attorney for a brief overview of what he plans to do on your behalf. In fact, it can help you determine which attorneys are knowledgeable about real estate law. Seasoned real estate attorneys will give you a rough outline of the actions that need to be taken, such as the filing of certain documents
4. How will you bill me?
Knowing the fee schedule for your attorney can help to avoid unpleasant surprises later. Most attorneys work on an hourly basis, meaning they will charge you a certain amount for every hour they spend working on your case. Standard hourly fees range from $150 to $200/hour. For simple matters, you may be able to negotiate a price. If you’re just asking for something to be drafted, that’s a great time to ask for a flat fee. However, a case requiring negotiations with another party or spending time in court is generally billed hourly.
5. Who else will be working on my case?
Some law firms hand off the initial work on cases to a junior attorney, a paralegal or someone knowledgeable about the law, but not necessarily to a licensed attorney. During your initial consultation, ask who will do the most work on your legal matter and make sure you’re comfortable with that person before proceeding.

After asking specific questions about a real estate attorney’s background, be sure to choose the lawyer who makes you feel at ease. It can be as much about the personal side of things as anything else. Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns or for a list of referrals.