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How to Choose a Real Estate Attorney



One of the biggest commitments or investments you will ever make is in selling, purchasing, or leasing real estate, whether it be residential or commercial. It's no wonder then that choosing a real estate attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make.


Whether buying the house you have always dreamed of, choosing a condo in your favorite neighborhood, considering a co-op, or in a business with real estate needs, ensuring all legal requirements are met, and the transaction is favorable to you will be essential.


Choosing the right real estate attorney to work with, then, is one of the first things you will want to do to ensure a successful outcome. When it comes to this, however, you may be feeling confused over how to choose the right one for your circumstances.


To help, here is a list of what to look for in a real estate attorney and the five essential steps to help you choose the right one for your needs.


What to Look for in a Real Estate Attorney


Here are the things to look for in a trusted real estate attorney.


  • Knowledge of local real estate law

Real estate law can vary greatly even within a state, so seeking an attorney who understands how your city or county works will be crucial. This will include local home market values in various neighborhoods, zoning ordinances, tax considerations, and various other local knowledge.


For example, if the real estate is in Huntington New York, or surrounding areas, you want to look for an attorney position in that area for local representation. The further away from the location, an attorney is located, the less assurance you have that they will understand all the local laws and nuances involved in real estate transactions.


A related factor to consider is that the longer an attorney has practiced law in your location, the more familiar they will be not only with local real estate law but also all those involved in the process.


  • Experience in real estate transactions

The attorney you want working for you is one with ample experience in handling real estate transactions. More specifically, you want one who handles your particular type of need, similar to your case, whether it be residential or commercial.


Since real estate transactions aren't always as simple as you might hope, seek out an attorney who has not only the knowledge but also the experience in handling any issues that can come up. You will want to discuss possibilities that can occur throughout the process and how your attorney advises to address these as they appear.


  • Personality Traits Important to You

Just as all transactions are not alike, nor are all attorney personalities. You will need to look for personality traits that are important to you, such as good communication skills and the ability to explain contract terms in a manner you understand.


You also want a lawyer that is approachable so you can work comfortably with them instead of being intimidated or confused. You want to partner with an attorney who:


  • Will accept and respond to your calls and questions in a timely manner.

  • Keep you apprised of all aspects of your particular real estate matter.

  • Takes the time to understand your goals and needs in a real estate transaction.

Being comfortable and confident in your attorney is not only essential but can lessen the overall stress involved.


5 Steps to Take to Choose a Real Estate Attorney


Now that you know what to look for in a real estate attorney, it is time to identify who might be a good fit for your legal needs. Following these five steps will help you stay organized in your search and help you make the best selection for you personally.


1. Compile a List of Local Real Estate Attorneys


Knowing your available options will help in your search for a trusted attorney. Start by compiling a list of real estate attorneys serving your area. To build this list, try doing any or all the following:


  • Ask family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who they have worked within real estate matters and who they recommend.

  • Ask for recommendations from a local real estate agent or other professional you trust.

  • Contact the New York Bar Association for a list of attorneys specializing in real estate law.

What you want is a list of attorneys familiar with local law and, more specifically, your county or city. Real estate law can vary greatly even within a state, so seeking an attorney who understands how your location works will be crucial.


2. Research Each to Narrow Down Your Options


Narrow down your list of potential real estate attorneys by researching each one thoroughly. You are looking for the following important information:


  • Type of real estate they handle most often, such as commercial or residential;

  • The number of years of experience in the field;

  • Any and all specific education and training they have;

  • Results and testimonials from past clients; and

  • Reputation, both locally and state-wide.

This type of information can most likely be found on the law firm's website, state bar associations, and other local and online sources.


3. Schedule Consultations


Contact those attorneys on your narrowed list and schedule a consultation. Most law firms offer a free initial consultation to prospective clients. If any on your list does not offer this, cross them off and move on to the next one.


Expect the attorney to ask you basic questions about your legal needs to gain an initial understanding. This will help them determine how they can help and what issues might arise.


Initial consultations can reveal important points to help you choose the real estate attorney you prefer. These include:


  • your comfortability with the attorney and law firm,

  • approachability of the attorney and staff,

  • communication styles compatible with yours, and

  • fee structures and payment options offered.

4. Ask Questions


Once you have scheduled a consultation, make a list of questions with you to the meeting to ensure you don't forget any ones important to you. Consider asking the following question of each attorney you interview.


  • How long have you practiced real estate law?

  • How long have you practiced law in this area? Many firms have long-serving attorneys practicing in an area, like Darren E. Sheehan in Cold Spring Harbor New York.

  • What are the types of real estate cases you typically handle? For example, if you need help with a condo unit or co-op in Huntington New York, be sure to specifically ask if they have experience in these areas.

  • How many commercial or residential real estate transactions have you handled?

  • Will you be handling my real estate case, or will it be someone else in the law firm?

  • Can you provide a list of successful cases and/or client references?

  • What will be your timeframe in this matter? Or, how soon can you get to this matter?

If you get the impression the lawyer is rushing you or is impatient when listening, consider crossing them off your list and move on to the next. While this may be time-consuming on your end, you'll be glad you did so once you start working with your attorney.


Essentially, it comes down to the attorney's experience, knowledge, and results. Before choosing, make sure you are clear on all three of these essentials.


5. Choose Your Real Estate Attorney


Whether you decide personality or the number of successful results is most important to you, choose the real estate attorney you feel the more comfortable working with overall.


This choice is personal, so you want it to fit your type of real estate transaction, individual needs, and your timeframe. Consider what is most important to you and choose accordingly.


In New York, Contact The Law Office of Darren E. Sheehan, P.C. For All Your Real Estate Needs


Whether you are an individual or a business, you can expect the personal attention and dedication you deserve from The Law Office of Darren E. Sheehan, P.C. Serving those on Long Island and throughout the five boroughs, our Cold Spring Harbor New York office offers free initial consultations for all your real estate as well as other legal needs. Contact us today to learn more and get started.

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