Last updated on April 11, 2023

6 Questions To Ask a Real Estate Lawyer Before You Hire Them

Buying and selling real estate, especially in today’s hot market, can be stressful and may leave you legally vulnerable. While many individuals buying or selling a home know the basics of a real estate purchase, the basics won’t help if you get into a dispute with a potential investor. There are things to consider when selling your home. You may also find that you didn’t fulfill some of your contractual requirements as a first time buyer in New York, and now you are stuck.

Outside of New York State, it is not uncommon to see real estate transactions done with nothing but real estate agents and title company involvement, but it’s to every buyer or seller’s advantage to have legal guidance. While agents are an invaluable resource, they can’t dispense legal advice and are only liable for the specific services they are licensed to perform. However, New York real estate transactions can get really complicated and require an experienced attorney to navigate through the process.
A skilled NYC real estate attorney will review your contract, manage your due diligence, and guide you through closing. Having a real estate lawyer in your corner helps ensure the safety of your transaction and cuts down on the potential for litigation. But not all attorneys are alike. Asking the right questions will lead you to the right attorney for you.

Real estate attorney in Manhattan

Do You Practice Other Types of Law?

While many attorneys practice multiple areas of the law, you want an attorney whose primary focus is real estate. This ensures that he or she is well-versed in all the complicated real estate laws that your transaction may be subject to. It’s impossible to be the best at what you do if you practice multiple unrelated types of law, and you are looking for a lawyer who offers the best real estate legal guidance possible.

How Familiar Are You With My Type of Real Estate Transaction?

Real estate transactions are not created equal. Commercial and investment transactions are completely different from residential primary home transactions. There will be different due diligence requirements, liability issues, and tax implications depending on the type of property and transaction. You want to ensure that the New York City real estate attorney you choose has extensive experience with your particular type of real estate transaction, whether you are buying or selling a home or investing in an apartment complex.

Will I Be Dealing With You or Your Paralegal?

While a paralegal is a skilled professionals, their legal advice and liability are extremely limited. A paralegal is valuable for drawing up and filing important documents and conducting title searches, but dispensing legal advice and guidance is not in their wheelhouse. You are paying for the services of a lawyer, and that is what you should get. If a lawyer expects their paralegal to address all of their clients’ issues, you will not be getting the legal services you are paying for.

What Do Your Services Include?

A good real estate lawyer should offer 360-degree legal guidance from the thorough review of your contract through managing any other legal and financial due diligence necessary on your behalf. This can be extensive and will be different for each property type and transaction. You want a lawyer who has a good command of what will be necessary for your particular transaction and is clear about the services they will provide for you.

What Do Your Fees Include?

Traditionally, most real estate attorneys in New York City charge an all-inclusive fee depending upon the type of transaction and its complexity. This is typically taken at closing. If you are interviewing an attorney with a too-good-to-be-true fee structure, you may be paying extra for everything from the copies they make for you to the time they spend on a phone call on your behalf. How the lawyer expects to be paid and exactly what is included should be in writing.

What Can Go Wrong In Attorney Review?

The attorney review is a process in which the lawyers of both parties review and modify the contract. Typically, the review lasts for three business days unless an extension is agreed upon by both sides. Attorneys may modify, add or delete items relevant to the transaction. 

During this period, negotiations take place between the two parties to agree on the terms of the contract. The attorneys are responsible for negotiating and setting dates, determining deposit amounts, and resolving any legal issues that may arise. Once the attorney review period is over, the contract becomes legally binding for both parties. It is important to note that either party can withdraw from the agreement with no consequences during this period. 

Several matters must also be discussed and settled through negotiation. These matters include but are not limited to the extent of inspections, the amount and deadline for the deposit, as well as the buyer’s mortgage commitment period and closing date. Other issues that require negotiation may involve a home sale contingency, allowing a buyer to sell their current residence, or a replacement home contingency, giving a seller time to find a new house. Additionally, parties might need to discuss a use and occupancy agreement that would allow the seller to stay on the property after the sale’s completion, while bearing the buyer’s carrying costs, such as daily mortgage and tax expenses.

If you are searching for an experienced New York City real estate attorney, the team at Sishodia PLLC offers fine-tuned and individualized legal representation from first-time residential sales to highly-complex commercial transactions. Contact us at (833) 616-4646 or schedule a consultation through our online contact form.

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