Real Estate Lawyer – Facilitating Deals with Peace of Mind


A real estate lawyer makes buying and
selling property easy. There are different laws, terms and clauses involved
with buying and selling property, it is always good to have a real estate
attorney on your side. Before knowing how a real estate lawyer can help you,
let us understand what a real estate attorney is.

real estate attorney

Table of Contents

What is a real estate attorney – meaning
and definition

A real estate attorney is a lawyer who
facilitates the legal transfer of property from the seller to the buyer. They
prepare the documentation for the sale of property and make sure that the title
is clear. His services also include the smooth transfer of funds. In addition,
he also represents clients in property disputes. They are specialized in cases
related to real estate property which means land and structure built on it.

What does a real estate attorney do?

As the name suggests a real estate attorney
looks after the legal aspect of the property, its buying and selling, its
ownership and compliance. Here we give the details of roles performed by an

They negotiate the real estate deals

A real estate attorney plays a significant
role in negotiating deals. He reads the deal carefully and ensures that his
client’s interests are well protected. Besides, he also ensures that the deal
is in the accordance with state and federal law.

Document and review deals

Going a step further he ensures that deal –
sell, purchase, mortgage or rental agreement – is rightly worded and contains
all the legal terms and phrases.

Title search

Among other responsibilities, a real estate
attorney is also responsible for performing the title search. But before
proceeding further let’s know what the title search is.

The title search can be defined as a legal
term where a real estate lawyer ensures that a seller has the right to sell a
property. For this, he examines the public document to establish that the
property is rightfully owned by the seller. While doing a title search the
attorney also reveals whether there is any claim or lien against the property
that may affect the prospects of a buyer.

Here is what type of title search a real
estate attorney does.

  • Ensuring sellers’ legal right to sale
  • Finding out if there is a claim or liens
  • Any issue that may affect buyers’ prospect
  • Any restrictive covenants or zoning
    ordinances that limit the use of land.
  • Checking if all property taxes have been

Documents terms of insurance policies

A real estate attorney also drafts the
terms of the insurance. These insurance covers come as a safety net for buyers
if a claim against the bought property surfaces.

Facilitates loan closing process

A real estate lawyer also looks after the
loan closing process. He makes sure that forms are filled appropriately and all
the requisite documents have been submitted. As they have done it many times
before, the chances of error are very lean.

Negotiation and dispute

An experienced real estate lawyer could be
of great help if there is any dispute arising around your property. In such a
case, your attorney negotiates to safeguard your interests. If the case doesn’t
get resolved through negotiation and reaches litigation, he negotiates your

Represents you in the foreclosure action

People often buy property on loan and
sometimes fail to repay the loans. In such a situation a lender moves a
foreclosure action in court. Here, a real estate attorney represents you in

Moves Quiet title action for you

While closing a deal there are some issues
that simply remain uncovered in the title search. Making changes in title
records is difficult. Here, your real estate attorney moves a quiet title
action giving notice to all concerned parties to either respond to the notice
or their claim remains void.

Handles zoning and land issues

The government decides and regulates land
use. It regulates which area would be right for single homes, which one for
apartments, and which one for commercial activities. Here a real estate owner
can file a petition to reconsider the land use. No doubt, the services of a
real estate lawyer are needed.

Lease and subleases

Your real estate attorney reviews the
leases and subleases on your behalf. He checks the document to ensure that your
interests have not been compromised.

Construction contract

If you have purchased the land and want to
construct a house on it, then you might be looking for a construction
contractor. Here a real estate attorney reviews the terms of the contract and
makes sure your interests are protected.

Construction loans

If you are negotiating with a bank or a
financial company for some construction loan, then you should have a real
estate attorney on your side. He reads and reviews the different clauses and
terms of the loan and interprets the same to you guiding you not to sign
anything you don’t agree with.

Managing disputes

A real estate attorney helps in managing
the dispute. It could be a dispute over construction, a fence, or anything
else. He negotiates with all the concerned parties and settles it for you.

Drafting and reviewing covenant

A covenant is a written document included
in a deed or agreement that suggests what to do or not to do. So, a real estate
lawyer reads the covenant to you making it clear what can you or not do with
the property.

When is a real estate attorney needed?

Hiring or not hiring a real state attorney
is definitely your choice. But there are certain conditions when you need to
hire an attorney.

It’s required by state laws

Some states in America require that there
should be a real estate attorney to complete the deal, particularly the

A few of these states where a real estate
attorney is required by law are Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas,
Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South
Carolina among others.

The kind of requirements may vary from one
state to another.

Requirements from lenders

Some lenders also require the involvement
of a real estate attorney while a deal is being closed.

Hire or not to hire a real estate lawyer

Whether or not to hire a real estate lawyer
has been an eternal dilemma. Here we would like to discuss when you should or
shouldn’t hire a real estate lawyer.

When to hire a real estate lawyer

There are certain situations when you
consider hiring a real estate lawyer. These conditions are as follows.

Renting out the property

The laws regarding landlords and tenants
are highly complex. And as you are renting out the property for the first time,
you might not be comfortable understanding its finer nuances. There are laws
for late payment of rent, check bounces and termination of tenancy.

A real estate attorney will help safeguard
your rights while renting out a property.

Buying a home for the first time

Buying a home is one of the most valuable
investments you make. You put in your savings, arrange loans and even seek help
from friends. No doubt the stakes are high. You don’t want to take chance as
your hard-earned money is involved. You want the smooth transfer of property.
You want your deed to be documented right?

Buying a property, that too flawlessly is a
multi-step process. Right from title search to covenant and documentation to
transfer the payment, everything needs to be done perfectly. Besides, a real
estate attorney can also help you with disputes and negotiations.

Here having an experienced real estate
attorney on your side could be a great idea.

Commercial property

Buying or selling a commercial property could
be a daunting task as the laws pertaining to it are different from those of
residential property. The amount involved in the transaction is also large.
There are several clauses and subclauses involved with these transactions that
may affect your interests. So, relying solely on real estate agents wouldn’t be
a great idea. You should hire a real estate lawyer who will safeguard your

Helps make the purchase agreement

The purchase agreement is one of the vital
documents for buying a property. Here an attorney explains the terms of the
purchase. Additionally, he makes changes in the purchase agreement to make it
suitable for buyers and sellers.

Searching for title

The title search is another stage where you
need to hire a real estate lawyer. The title search is the stage after signing
a purchase agreement. Here, an attorney establishes that the seller has the
right to sell the property and there is no lien or mortgage against the

Closing a deal

There are several stages to buying a property.
Closing of the deal is one such stage. Here deed and other documents are
prepared and remains of the balance are paid. Here a real estate attorney
prepares the closing document and explains the amount to the buyer and seller.

Bank owned property

There are times when a bank seizes
someone’s property for not repaying the loans. Banks sell these properties. If
you are buying one of these properties, then hiring a real estate lawyer could
be a great idea. Such an attorney examines the document and suggests to you
whether this property is worth buying.

Litigation or dispute

Some property buyers think that there is no
use in hiring a real estate lawyer while buying a property. It may sound good
in the beginning. But it becomes extremely necessary if a dispute surfaces
during the transaction or it may scale up to litigation. A real estate agent
can’t handle these matters. You need to hire a real estate lawyer who has
experience in handling these transactions. 

When not to hire a real estate lawyer

You shouldn’t hire a real estate attorney when transaction is very small and can be managed with a real estate agent.

Questions to ask a real estate

There is no dearth of real estate lawyers.
Almost every law firm claims to be dealing with real estate laws making it more
complex. Most law firms claim to have a team of highly qualified attorneys that
leaves you puzzled. Here we give you an insight into what questions to ask your
prospective real estate attorney.

Start with qualification

As far as the qualification of a real
estate attorney is concerned, they should pass the 3-year graduate course in
law recognized by the American bar association. In this course, they are taught
the basics of law.

Besides, they should also have cleared the
bar examination of the state concerned. They are given Juris Doctor (JD)

They can also earn a Master of Law (LLM)

You should ask them about their level of
education and the institutions they have attended. Some real estate lawyers
have also attended master of law degrees.

Ask about experience

Practice makes a man perfect and the same
applies to a real estate attorney. When it comes to hiring an attorney people
often go for the experience. Ask your prospective attorney how much experience
they have in total. Also, ask about the relevant experience they have in
practicing real estate law. Always prefer one who has experience in local real
estate law. It is not wrong to say that practice makes a man perfect.

Commercial vs residential real estate

When it comes to the cost of legal
services, there is a difference between commercial and residential real estate
lawyers. Commercial real estate lawyers are always on the high side. However,
the cost depends upon the nature of the transaction and the services availed.
The more services you will avail of, the more you will end up paying.

Success rate

Action speaks louder than words. So, you
should prefer a lawyer who doesn’t only talks but whose success speaks about
him. Ask him about the number of cases he has handled and with what success.

Would he work alone or with a team?

While interviewing your lawyer you should
ask whether he will work on your case alone or if a team would be working on
it. In large legal firms, a team is assigned to every assignment.

What can I expect from the case?

An experienced real estate attorney can
tell what you can expect from the case. So, you should ask this question from
your prospective lawyer.

Tips to hire a real estate attorney

Planning to buy or sell a property and
looking for a real estate attorney. Finding the right attorney would be a
difficult task.

Know their experience

Like diamonds, attorneys shine with
polishing. Longer they practice, the more experience they get. You should
prefer hiring a real estate lawyer that has relevant experience.

Here looking for experience is a tricky
question. You shouldn’t go for a lawyer who is experienced but whose experience
is not relevant.

Sometimes people hire a friend or relative
who practices law. This could be a risky proposition.

Look for an active real estate attorney

Some attorneys work on your assignment
themselves while others just take the case and assign it to others. Both of
these arrangements are good but you should be comfortable with them.

Bar associations could be helpful

States and counties in America have bar
associations and attorneys including real state attorneys are required to be
associated with their concerned bar associations. These associations are good
resources for checking out the credibility of potential attorneys.

You can check their website or make a call
to know about the credentials of an attorney. Make sure that the concerned
attorney is associated with the association. Here we can know about the
complaints filed against the attorneys.

Even if you know the real estate attorney
well, an initial check with the bar association is highly recommended.

Know the fee structure

The fee structure is another important
consideration when hiring a real estate attorney. Don’t go for the attorney
that charges a pittance as a good attorney doesn’t come for a pittance.

Neither should you go for an attorney that
charges too much as they might come within your budget.

Always go for an attorney that offers value
for money. There could be no dearth of honest employees if you look for them

Know the rating of your attorney

There are some rating agencies in the US
that rate attorneys. Know the rating of your potential attorney. If your
potential attorney is well-rated then you should go ahead. If he is rated bad,
or not listed at all, it is time to look for another attorney.

Do you enjoy rapport?

Those interested in the property business
keep selling and buying properties. They sell the property today and buy
another property tomorrow and vice versa. Such clients look for an attorney
with whom they can share good chemistry.

So, you should also look for a lawyer with
whom you could have a good rapport. Look for an attorney who can understand
your interests well and act accordingly.

Hiring a lawyer in the initial stage

Wise people are proactive. They seek legal
help at the initial stage to avoid hurdles that may come in their path. Through
years of experience, they know the upcoming hurdles and warn you against them.

Look into their testimonials

There is no proof of a lawyer’s efficiency
is than clients’ testimonials. Clients these days don’t hide anything. They
believe in calling spade a spade. They praise their lawyers if they are good
and don’t hesitate to criticize them if they are not up to the mark.

These testimonials which are commonly
available online can offer great insights and help you find the right attorney.

Real estate attorney – Frequently asked

As a buyer or seller, you have several
questions related to real estate laws and attorneys. Here we will be discussing
important among them.

What does a real estate lawyer represent?

A real estate attorney or lawyer can
represent either buyer or seller but not both. There are reasons behind it.
Representing both – buyer and seller – will lead to a clash of interests.

Buyers and sellers can hire their own
attorneys who can assist them while buying and selling properties.

How does a real estate attorney help a

Many buyers intend to hire a real estate
attorney sometime due to need and sometime just to be on the safe side. A real
estate attorney helps buyers in more than one way.

  • Title search
  • Preparing sale-purchase agreements
  • Mortgage documentation
  • Property transfer process
  • Title insurance
  • Closing

How does a real estate attorney help

Real estate attorneys play a pivotal role
in the property transaction. It helps sellers in different forms. Here is how
they help sellers.

  • Help with contracts
  • Does home inspection
  • Negotiate with parties
  • Titles
  • Distressed properties

What is the definition of the deed?

A deed can be defined as a legal document
used to transfer a property from buyer to seller. It is important for those
involved in the property transaction.

Is litigation the only option when you find
yourself in a property dispute?

No. Most real estate attorneys try to
resolve it out of court. If the matter remains unresolved after negotiations,
it goes to litigation.

How much does a real estate attorney

On average, a real estate attorney charges
$150-$350 an hour. However, the charge may vary according to cities, experience
and situations.

Also Read
Construction Accident Lawyer – Relieving the Pain Legally

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