I hope you all had a relaxing summer. With the holidays quickly approaching and the school year resuming, I hope you find a couple of minutes to read about a very important topic in the homebuying process.
With the real estate market on fire right now, many of you are looking to purchase a new home or will be looking for a new home in the near future.
One vital step of the homebuying process is hiring a real estate attorney.
When to Hire Your Attorney
A question I get often is, when do I hire a real estate attorney?
The moment you start looking for your home and get pre-approved, you need to start asking around and do research about attorneys. Speak to potential lawyers on the phone and feel their vibe. There is no need to meet in person at this point unless there is a specific issue you need to discuss, for example, you are selling and there are estate planning issues.
The worst time to start asking around is when you have an accepted offer on a house that has in multiple bids, inspection was done, and now there is a legal issue. You need an attorney, but you are in a rush and cannot make a proper decision.
How to Choose Your Attorney
What goes into choosing a real estate attorney?
To clear this up, PRICE IS NOT A FACTOR. In Brooklyn, they all charge within the same range, so it is not worth it to skimp on a few hundred dollars and to use an attorney who will not help you as much. Sometimes paying a more expensive attorney is worth it to save all the headaches and negotiations.
What is extremely important is your lawyer’s accessibility. Often there are sensitive factors and issues that need to be resolved, and if your lawyer does not respond in a timely manner big problems can arise. For example, if I send in a deal sheet (which initiates communication between a buyer’s attorney and a seller’s attorney) on Monday morning and I do not receive any response from one of the attorneys until the following Tuesday (nearly 10 days later) this is not ideal for the client. It is important to ask previous clients and the attorneys about their turn-around time and communication style.
Another important factor would be an attorney who explains everything clearly and confidently to first time homebuyers (or any homebuyer), an attorney who will ensure that their client feels completely comfortable before signing there life away, naah, just kidding…
On a serious note, the client needs to understand what they are signing. I always find there are two types of people. One type will never read anything, barely glances at the papers, and takes a second to sign. The second type literally will dissect the papers and ask the attorney all types of questions. You need to make sure your attorney is able to deal with all parties on the deal (the husband, wife co-signer, and all the family members) so you need someone who is able to communicate properly.
What to Look For
You want an attorney who will protect you one hundred percent, someone who will make sure you are covered from all angles. In New York real estate agents do not put together contracts. We draft a deal/term sheet for both the buyers and sellers with all the terms written down and then the respective attorneys take it from there and negotiate with each other. Therefore, you want to have attorneys who are not ego-driven(!!), people who feel comfortable negotiating while protecting you.
Why is an attorney called an “Esq.”?
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the title Esquire signified the status of a man who was below a knight but above a gentleman. Over the centuries, the esquire title became common among legal professionals, including sheriffs, justices of the peace, and attorneys.