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Choosing a real estate attorney is an important decision you need to make when buying New York City real estate. He or she can help you navigate the difficult and often contentious real estate market. Besides a buyer’s agent who represents your best interests in a real estate transaction, a lawyer represents your legal and contractual rights. 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?

Your agent is an excellent source for a recommendation. Combined with his or her colleagues, they have done many transactions over the years, and can confidently recommend a lawyer. By the way, a lawyer is not allowed to accept a referral fee from a real estate broker, which should raise your confidence that he/she is on your side since there are no outside incentives.
 
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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 he or she has 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 his/her experience and see if you are comfortable working with him/her. 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?

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, and he or she negotiates 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. He or she is also conducting 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. He or she is also preparing the breakdown of closing cost fees you will owe to the various parties at closing. At closing, he or she has the documents for you to sign in order for you to get the keys and disburses the funds.

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.

Recommended Attorneys

Lori J. Braverman, Esq.
Attorney at Law
280 Riverside Drive
New York, NY  10025
(212) 721-7625
Lisa Breier Urban, Esq.
The Breier Deutschmeister Urban Fromme Law Group, PLLC
156 Fifth Avenue, Suite 600
New York, New York 10010
(212) 791-3900
Gordon I. Remer, Esq.
1359 Broadway, Suite 2001
New York, New York 10018
(212)-564-1611
Seth A. Romanick, Esq.
Romanick & Skolnick, PLLC
142 Joralemon St., Suite 5A
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718)-624- 2240

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