How to Choose a Real Estate Lawyer: The Top 4 CriteriaBy Kormans LLP
You have recently purchased or sold a home. Congratulations! It’s a huge step in your life and probably the biggest financial transaction(s) that you will undertake (until the next one, of course). The ink is still wet on your agreement. The champagne is likely still flowing. Now reality is beginning to hit: you actually have to close the transaction. You need a real estate lawyer!!!
So how do you choose a real estate lawyer? Likely you received an introduction from your realtor or mortgage broker. Perhaps a family, friend, or work colleague worked with a real estate lawyer that they speak highly of. How do you choose the real estate lawyer that works for you?
Have no fear! I have created a very simple list of criteria that you can utilize in choosing your real estate lawyer. After you have looked at Google reviews and perhaps read their website and LinkedIn profile, reach out to the lawyer. E-mail is usually best, as they are often in meetings and closing deals like yours. Then, review the following criteria to determine if you have a chosen lawyer that is right for you in closing your real estate transaction:
Does this real estate lawyer close many real estate transactions? What types of transactions are they familiar with? Do you have a unique transaction like a cottage or rural property purchase? Is it new construction where you need the agreement reviewed? What about a resale condominium unit with a status certificate review? Find out: does this real estate lawyer have experience in transactions like yours? Are you comfortable that they have done this before? Make sure to pick an experienced lawyer! In case any blips or issues arise, you want to choose a real estate lawyer that has seen many difficulties in real estate transactions, identified the problems and solutions, and concluded with positive resolutions.
It may sound trivial – but not all people are built the same. Communicate with the real estate lawyer. Do they answer your questions professionally and with responses that give you confidence in their abilities? What have other referral sources told you about the individual? They say knowledge is power. In real estate law, knowledge is the difference between getting a transaction completed properly and efficiently vs. headaches. You hire a professional to make your life easier, that is the bottom line. Your real estate lawyer will walk you through your real estate transaction from beginning to end. Have the confidence to choose a lawyer that knows and understands real estate. Period.
#2 GETS RESULTS
On this criteria, you won’t necessarily have your answer until your real estate transaction closes. But think and watch throughout the process. Did your real estate lawyer review your agreement for you ahead of time? Did you get back responses in a timely manner and to your satisfaction? What was the communication like between your real estate lawyer’s team and your realtor? Your mortgage broker? It is funny how much work is being done on a real estate transaction behind the scenes that you may not be aware of! Speak to your other professionals – how did your realtor and mortgage broker find working with your real estate lawyer? Choose the real estate lawyer that gets things done. After your real estate transaction closes, the relationship does not have to end. You could have a refinance transaction close in the future. An investment or cottage property. Perhaps you plan to buy/sell a business, incorporate a company, or need a will. Talk to your real estate lawyer. They might be able to assist you with many of your legal needs. Once you know they get results; you want to choose a lawyer that you can work with for years to come!
AND THE #1 CRITERIA TO CHOOSING A REAL ESTATE LAWYER: YOU LIKE THEM
I bet you didn’t see that one coming! Probably the most common sense answer, but yet the one that people do not always think of. Yes – you found a real estate lawyer that has experience, knowledge and get results. But do you really like them? Do you communicate well with them? Did you establish expectations with them on your transaction that they were able to meet or exceed? In this day and age, let’s be frank. We most want to work with people that we like. That we feel comfortable to reach out to them and feel that we are appreciated and care for us. It should be a good feeling speaking with your real estate lawyer. A strong relationship should make you feel like they are part of your family. They have seen you through important life milestones. You will most enjoy working with a real estate lawyer that connects with you. Choose the real estate lawyer that you most want to be part of your team!
You will notice that one criteria that I omitted was price. It’s a simple reason. You are spending a large sum of money on your home purchase. Or you have sold a home. We are talking likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not in the millions. Look at the dollar figures you spend on land transfer tax and real estate commission accounts. Now think of who the person is who closes your transaction for you. The person that you trust with the experience, knowledge, that you look to for results in completing your transaction and that you like. Are you going to really give all of that up for $50? $100? Maybe the difference is $200 or more. But that is literally pennies on the dollar compared to the value of your property. Service is the most important part of any transaction. Once the deal is closed, is that professional still available to answer questions? The service you receive – from the time to you first connect to after your transaction closes, that is worth a great deal. If you chose a real estate lawyer that you are happy with the experience and result of your transaction, then assuming their costs are in-line with industry standards, they are worth it. We wish you the best on your upcoming real estate transaction and helping you select your chosen lawyer! 😊
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Jonathan A. Hacohen is a Partner at Kormans LLP. His practice areas include Real Estate & Corporate Law, as well as Wills/Estates law. You can reach Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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