What to Look for When Hiring a Real Estate Attorney

What to Look for When Hiring a Real Estate Attorney

If you are looking to buy or sell property in New York City, your first step should be to hire a qualified real estate attorney. You may think an attorney is unnecessary for a simple transaction like buying a house. But real estate matters are rarely simple, and even if you do not think an attorney will be helpful going into a transaction, if something goes wrong you will be grateful for their assistance. A real estate attorney can help you identify, and avoid, risks that you might not have realized or considered, and help to ensure a smooth transaction.

So what should you look for when hiring a New York real estate attorney? There are many factors to consider based on your particular situation and needs. But here are some basic questions you should ask yourself.

Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer

Is There a Difference Between a Real Estate Attorney and a Real Estate Agent?

Many people rely on real estate agents to handle matters like finding a buyer for a particular property. Agents usually work on commission, meaning they receive a percentage of the final sales price of the property. But while an agent provides valuable services, their role should not be confused with that of a real estate attorney.

A real estate attorney should basically take over once the agent identifies a buyer (or seller). The attorney prepares a sales contract and handles the closing on behalf of either party. While a real estate agent generally understands these matters, by law they cannot advise on more complex legal questions. This makes a real estate attorney invaluable.

Does the Attorney Know the Area?

Although there are many aspects of real estate law common throughout New York State (and even between states), there is no substitute for local knowledge. If you are buying a house in Staten Island, you want someone who knows that area and is familiar with local custom, benefits and pitfalls. Further, local laws may differ from the rules governing similar transactions on Long Island or upstate New York. For example, zoning laws vary wildly from place to place, even within the five boroughs of New York City, and a good real estate attorney will be able to identify, and be familiar with, the exact rules applicable to your situation.

Does the Attorney Have Adequate Experience and Resources?

Obviously, you would expect a real estate attorney to have real estate experience. But what you need to determine is whether an attorney understands your specific problem and has the resources to deal with it. You should always ask a prospective attorney how he or she proposes to handle your case. If they cannot provide a sufficiently detailed answer, you may want to look elsewhere.

Just as importantly, you need to assess whether the attorney’s firm can handle a matter of your size and complexity. A sole practitioner two years out of law school may not be the right choice to handle commercial real estate litigation involving a Manhattan skyscraper. You need to ask questions about the firm as a whole and its ability to cope with a potentially long-term undertaking.

How Much Will It Cost?

As noted above, real estate agents typically work on commission. In contrast, most attorneys bill for their services on an hourly basis. However, for simple home sales and purchases, most attorneys will represent you in a transaction and do the “closing” for a specified flat fee. You should never be afraid to ask upfront about an attorney’s billing practices, so as to avoid any misunderstanding after the fact.

Looking for a Real Estate Attorney?

You will no doubt have many questions for a potential New York real estate attorney in addition to those listed above. If you need assistance with a residential or commercial real estate matter in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Staten Island, contact the offices of Menicucci Villa Cilmi, PLLC today.

New York Real Estate Attorney. If you have legal questions regarding Real Estate, Mortgage or are in need of a Real Estate Lawyer in Staten Island, Brooklyn or New York contact the Law Firm of Menicucci, Villa, Cilmi PLLC for a no cost case evaluation.  We are a Real Estate Law Firm with offices in Staten Island, Brooklyn and New York City.


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