At the heart of the matter, the purchase or sale of a home is a legal transaction. When we mention the world legally, lawyers of distinction cannot be far from the discussion.
Whether you are buying or selling, the real estate industry has developed forms that often can be used to get the deal done. Many people rely on these forms every day, but the outcome isn’t always so great. If there is any problem with the transaction, the forms become obsolete. At that point, it is time for legal representation in many situations.
The first thing to know about a real estate lawyer is you may be legally required to have one involved in the transaction. The rules vary by state. In California, for instance, you are not required to use a lawyer and they usually only get involved in disputes or commercial transactions. Florida, on the other hand, has a strong policy towards using lawyers with the idea being to get the matter right at the outset instead of having problems later on.
Whatever your particular reason for needing a real estate lawyer, you are still going to need to find one. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when selecting one. Here are some tips.
1. Find a real estate lawyer. By this, I mean someone who practices primarily in the field of real estate. Most lawyers own homes, so they think they can handle real estate transactions. This typically is not true. Real estate law can be complex, so get someone that already knows it.
2. Go local. Real estate laws tend to be statewide, but regulations tend to be local. Obviously, it depends on the situation in your state, but you need to seriously consider getting a lawyer in the area you are selling or buying.
3. Comfort Level – Many people just choose any old lawyer. This is a mistake. Get one who speaks your language and you are comfortable. If you like aggressive people, get an aggressive lawyer. If you like yellers, get a yeller. If you prefer a more poised attorney, a yeller is probably not a good choice.
4. Know Your Purpose – Lawyers have distinct styles. Some prefer to try to find solutions to disputes. Others prefer to crush the other side. You need to know what your goal is when interviewing lawyers and communicate it clearly. Their reaction should give you an idea of whether they are a good choice or not.
Perhaps the biggest rule to remember when dealing with lawyers is your role. You are the client. They represent you. Most people hire a lawyer and then ask for advice on what they should do and what decisions they should make. This makes lawyers uncomfortable because they don’t know you from a hill of beans. Know what you want and communicate it to them. Their job is then to go get it.