Hiring a real estate attorney is highly recommended if you are in the process of buying a home. A real estate attorney will help safeguard your interests throughout the process, ensure that you obtain all your rights, and process all the legal documents that are required during the purchasing process. If you are on the lookout for a real estate attorney to guide you through the home purchasing process and final transaction, there are a number of tips and guidelines you should keep in mind.
- Start looking for a real estate attorney early – do not rush to find one just before you make an offer on the home you have decided on. Instead, start looking for an attorney seriously at the same time you start house hunting. This will ensure you have ample time to pick and choose and select the best one, as opposed to hastily hiring anyone you find last minute.
- Ask around for recommendations from people you trust. Family and friends who have recently bought a home could guide you effectively, and refer you to a good real estate attorney – make sure you inquire about the fees the attorney charged, and the quality of her/his services. In addition, you can also consult your real estate agent, and ask her/him to recommend some reputable attorneys (however, make sure you hire an attorney who is independent of the agent).
- It is essential to hire a real estate attorney who is sufficiently experienced. Look for a residential attorney in particular – they specialize in home sales – and one who has handled a great deal of real estate transactions. A lawyer referral service might also be available on your province’s bar association website.
- After drawing up a list of potential real estate attorneys, try to find more information on them online. If they have websites, you can use these to find out more about their credentials, background, experience, business style, specialties, contact information, and the location of their offices. Since you will need to meet with the attorney on a regular basis, it is best to hire a local one. Narrow your list down after researching the attorneys online.
- Next, select a few attorneys so you can interview them. You may conduct interviews over the phone, but these are best carried out in person, so you can get a better idea about whether you and the attorney can work together. During the interview, inquire about the attorney’s background, experience, services, their fees, how many closings they manage in a month, and ask for some clients who can serve as references.
- Follow the interview up by looking into the references the attorney provided, and do a bit of background reading to see if you can find articles online that were either written by your attorney, or about her/him. See what sort of a light they present the attorney in, and if this tallies with the impression you received during the interview. Check to see if s/he has run any advertisements in the newspapers, the Yellow Pages, or online, and note the nature of these adverts – are they tastefully done, and accurate?
- Finally, when you zero in on the attorney you want, make sure you read carefully through the “retainer agreement” or “engagement letter” s/he presents you. This will outline the fees and the services that will be provided, so ensure that you fully understand the terms that are presented.