Real estate transactions are fairly straightforward. If you’re buying, you show up at the seller’s location with a check or a briefcase full of cash and they hand you the deed, right? Of course not! Real estate transactions are accompanied by financing, tomes of paperwork, and dozens of witnessed signatures. It’s not something that any experienced investor goes into alone. Many individuals and companies hire real estate lawyers to review purchases and sales, mortgages, leasing agreements, collection policies, etc. But how do you know you have a good, qualified real estate attorney? Here are five tips to help you find the right real estate lawyer for you.
1. Start with an Internet Search
You are not going to hire the first lawyer that pops up in your internet search, but the web is a good place to start. Enter something like real estate lawyer San Antonio TX, or whatever applies to your area and skim the search results. Open a few pages and make sure that the attorney has some experience with the type of service that you require. If you’re not seeing what you need, add a few more search terms, like “commercial real estate lawyer for leasing agreements.” You’ll eventually come up with a short list of four or five lawyers that you can research.
2. Check with the State Bar
Remember that anyone can start a website, but it’s a little more difficult to get admitted to the state bar. Some bar associations, like Texas, have a handy attorney search that can also help you find a good real estate lawyer that services your area. If you enter an attorney’s name and can’t find them in the state bar registry, it may be time to move along.
3. Attorney Rating Services
If an attorney has a good rating with Avvo or another service, they’ll probably let you know somewhere on their page. But you can also go to the rating service and see if your lawyer is listed. If it’s not immediately apparent whether their score is good, average, or bad, pull up a few other attorney profiles to see how they rate in comparison.
4. Avoid “Jack of All Trade” Attorneys
It’s not at all unusual for an attorney to practice a few different closely-related areas of the law, like real estate law and business law. After all, they both involve contracts. It’s also not strange for a large law firm to have lawyers who specialize in different areas of the law. However, if an attorney you’re considering practices criminal law, maritime law, and family law, you may have to wonder how extensive their experience is in each. Make sure your real estate lawyer is really a real estate lawyer.
5. Interview Your Lawyer Before Committing
Do not feel that you ever have to hire an attorney sight unseen. You should be able to meet with a lawyer via a phone call before paying a consultation fee. Unless the attorney is in such high demand that they can afford to turn away business, they should be able to talk to you before asking for a retainer. Have your questions ready in advance. Both of your times are valuable.