Choosing a real estate attorney is an important decision you need to make when buying New York City real estate. Besides a buyer’s agent representing your best interests in a real estate transaction, a lawyer represents your legal and contractual rights. They can help you navigate the difficult and often contentious real estate market. While you are not required to have one, it is certainly a wise choice to hire a local lawyer specializing in real estate.
Where to find a Real Estate Attorney?Where to find a Real Estate Attorney?
Your agent is an excellent source for a recommendation. Combined with their colleagues, they have done many transactions over the years and can confidently recommend a lawyer. By the way, a lawyer cannot accept a referral fee from a real estate broker, which should raise your confidence that they are on your side since there are no outside incentives.
Take a referral from a friend with a grain of salt. Remember, individuals are probably only going to buy or sell a home three or four times in a lifetime, at most. That means they have limited experience using a real estate attorney. Still, this is better than randomly picking a lawyer blindly from an advertisement or Yelp review. There are certainly plenty of lawyers advertising for your business. But you have better options than merely picking one from the Yellow Pages (if you are old school) or an Internet advertisement, however.
You are certainly welcome to interview the lawyer. You can ask about their experience and see if you are comfortable working with them. The Office of Court Administration allows you to check that the lawyer is licensed and in good standing.
What does the attorney do for their fees?What does the attorney do for their fees?
Your buyer’s agent helps you find the right property, advises you on the price to offer by running a comparative analysis, and providing you information that you can use to your advantage. They negotiate the final price with the seller’s agent. Once a price has been accepted, you have your inspection. At this point, your lawyer works with your agent.
In New York, the seller’s attorney prepares the contract’s first draft. Your attorney may add additional terms to a rider based on your needs and wants. They also conduct due diligence, which takes on extra meaning in New York City condos, co-ops, and townhouses. Among other things, your lawyer should be checking to see if the building has any lawsuits, liens, seeing how significant improvements are handled, building permits, speaking to the property manager, and reviewing the building’s financial statements. You can do some of this work yourself, but it is highly recommended to have a trained lawyer looking too. Assuming there are no issues, both parties proceed with signing the contract.
At this point, your lawyer prepares for the closing. The attorney communicates with you to ensure you are providing the necessary information to obtain your mortgage. They are also preparing the breakdown of closing cost fees you will owe to the various parties at closing. At closing, they have the documents for you to sign for you to get the keys and disburses the funds.
Attorneys’ fees are reasonable.Attorneys’ fees are reasonable.
A typical attorney’s fee is in the $2,000-$3,000 range. This is part of your closing costs, but this is one fee that is well worth it.