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There’s a lot of stress involved with any sort of real estate transaction. There are expectations to meet, a wealth of laws and regulations to follow, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Despite all of this concern, many people don’t call an attorney to help guide them through this process as they do in so many other similar high-stakes situations. Real estate law services are more important than many people seem to recognize.
What does a real estate lawyer do and what are the benefits of hiring one when attempting to sell or purchase a property? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
Understanding Real Estate Law
There’s no avoiding the fact that the law and real estate have a complicated and fraught relationship. There are few elements of life in this country that aren’t more regulated and looked at by large institutions than that of real estate.
It can be even more confusing when you consider the fact that each state across the country has its own set of real estate laws. Things are not necessarily consistent from place to place. There’s a lot to keep up with.
Are there laws anywhere that stipulate or require the use of a real estate attorney in major transactions? The short answer is: it depends where you live. In some states, such as New York or Massachusetts, only a registered attorney has the ability to do a number of important real estate adjacent actions.
For example, only an attorney will be allowed under the law to prepare certain documents, close deals, or manage titles. In these states, it isn’t a question of whether you should hire a real estate attorney or not. You have to.
Of course, there are many other states where these requirements are not in place. Just because there isn’t a law that demands the use of a real estate attorney, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still consider getting one.
The benefits that can be provided by this kind of attorney can be nearly invaluable.
Benefits of a Real Estate Lawyer
Why hire an attorney? There’s not just one reason, there’s a whole collection of them. While you may feel as if you know the real estate process well enough on your own, there’s no way that you possibly are as informed and educated on procedures as a real estate attorney.
A real estate attorney will have handled cases exactly like yours dozens of times in the past. Possibly hundreds.
As such they will be uniquely positioned to advise you on how to proceed with your real estate transactions in the best possible way. They’ll know from past experience possible pitfalls to avoid as well as potential opportunities to take advantage of.
They’ll also be able to handle a number of complicated procedures and needs that might be foreign to you. The attorneys found at Freedom Law are an example of the kind of experienced help you’ll need to ensure your case is a success.
Dealing With Complex Paperwork
If there’s one thing that no one looks forward to when it comes to buying or selling property, it’s probably the paperwork. Mountains of paperwork are often involved in even the most basic of real estate transactions.
Even if you feel up to the task of handling all this paperwork, you might not want to. It might be a lot of work to put on top of all the other needs and responsibilities that come up in your life.
It can be so helpful and relieving to hand this paperwork off to someone who can get through it all for you. An attorney will know all of these legal documents like the back of their hand, meaning they can get through it much more efficiently than you could likely do on your own.
This will also limit the chance of mistakes or errors that could slow down or even further complicated the process.
If you’re purchasing real estate of any form from larger entities such as corporations, the contracts and paperwork you’ll need to work through will get even more complicated.
It can be necessary to rely on a lawyer during these difficult times to make sure that you’re getting everything you need out of the transaction. It’s not worth it to juggle everything on your own and risk making a mistake or getting the short end of a stick.
As we mentioned previously, there are some states that only allow attorneys to perform title searches. You’ll need to retain the help of an attorney if you want to complete a real estate transaction with certainty in these states.
Even outside of these states, it can be helpful to rely on an attorney to perform title searches for you.
What is a title search? It’s a process that confirms that the seller of a piece of property does have the legal right to sell that piece of property to you. It’s an important part of the closing process.
You’ll want to know this for your peace of mind, of course, but even more importantly, the lender that will be handling your mortgage will probably require it.
It’s essential that there are no outstanding judgments or liens on the property, as these could hinder the success of the real estate transaction in question.
An attorney will be able to search for, access, and verify this material for you with ease.
Commercial Property Laws
Looking to buy or sell commercial property? You’re likely making a solid and exciting investment. Unfortunately, you’re also putting yourself in a much more complicated legal position.
It’s no secret that the sale of commercial property is far more regulated than that of residential property.
When it comes to commercial property, you’ll need to be concerned about matters of corporate ownership, financing structures, tenant claims, and a whole wealth of other potential legal liabilities.
In fact, it can be difficult to determine what your legal concerns should even be when investing in commercial property without first hiring an attorney to come and check the situation out.
Sometimes, you’ll need an attorney’s help hiring and dealing with inspectors, of which there may be various. Lucky for you, a real estate lawyer likely already has many existing relationships with industry professionals.
You can rely on the network and connections of your attorney to secure the varied kind of help you’ll need to get your commercial property up and running.
That isn’t to say it won’t be a challenge, but it can all be so much easier when you have an experienced and helpful legal aide at your side.
An attorney will also fill you in on some of the smaller, cultural details of your work. You’ll know what kind of behavior is considered appropriate and what isn’t, which can be very helpful when first navigating the world of real estate.
Real Estate Lawyer Pay Structure
You’re into the idea of hiring a real estate lawyer to help out your next major transaction, but you’re unsure of how much to budget for quality real estate law services. What do you do?
This can be tricky. It’s helpful to first understand how exactly an attorney tends to charge. Most real estate lawyers charge by the hour. The rate they’ll charge per hour will depend on a number of factors, but mostly on their reputation.
The more successful an attorney has been over a long period of time, the more they will likely charge for their services per hour. You can expect to spend anywhere between $100 and $500 per hour for most lawyers worth their salt.
In other scenarios, an attorney may request a flat fee. This will be more common when you’re asking an attorney to accomplish specifics tasks for you, as opposed to asking them to ‘come aboard’ with you and your purchase in general.
For example, if you only wanted an attorney to handed the creation of a few closing documents for you, they’d be more likely to charge you a flat fee for this task than charge you by the hour.
However, if you expected to ask for their assistance on a wide variety of tasks spread out over a number of months, they’d likely charge you by the hour for this kind of help.
Power In Your Hands
It’s important to speak with an attorney at length about their anticipated pay structure prior to getting started working with them. You don’t want to get a nasty surprise later on when you eventually get the bill.
You’re the one doing the hiring and don’t forget that: you call the shots. If there’s only so much help you can afford, you can set a strict number of hours with an attorney and they can try to give you a rate that works for your budget.
Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare rates between different law firms and attorneys. Somewhere out there will be the right person for you and your case.
Trust your gut when you hire an attorney as well. It may sound silly or trite to say the personality of the attorney matters, but it really does. This is a person you’re going to have to be doing a great deal of work with.
If you can’t get along with them, you have trouble with communication, or they don’t seem to have the patience to explain things to you? These are all major red flags.
Make sure that you’re hiring someone that you can work together with well.
When to Hire a Real Estate Attorney
At what point in the process of your real estate transaction should you bring in an attorney? That will vary from case to case.
If you’ve made the decision to sell your home by owner, hiring an attorney as early on in the procedure will be helpful. At the very least, you should ensure you have an attorney by your side before signing any official paperwork.
When you sell a home on your own, you don’t even have a real estate agent to rely on for advice and expertise. You’re on your own completely. As such, it can be important to have someone to turn to with your questions and needs.
At the very least, it will give you someone else’s perspective to rely on. Even if you feel well-equipped for the task at hand, even the most experienced individual could always benefit from a second pair of eyes.
The same goes for purchasing or selling commercial property. The right time to bring an attorney in on the process will be as soon as possible. This kind of work is complicated and you could use the extra assistance from the get-go.
When else will you know it’s time to hire an attorney? If there’s even a hint that a legal dispute might arise between you and the other party involved in a sale, you should have an attorney at the ready.
Remember, most real estate lawyers charge by the hour, so it won’t cost much to have someone on standby. This way, you’ll be well equipped and ready should the need arise.
You don’t want to be outmaneuvered by the other entity in the sale because you didn’t come into the process prepared.
Real Estate Law Services
If you’re about to embark down the long road of a major real estate transaction, you might be considering whether you need extra assistance or not.
There are many benefits to enlisting real estate law services, as you can understand from combing through the information above. An experienced attorney can make a world of difference when working through this kind of complicated procedure.
Need more real estate advice and information? Keep scrolling our blog for more.