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, hiring a local lawyer specializing in real estate is wise.
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. 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 will probably only buy or sell a home three or four times in a lifetime. 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 your business. But you have better options than picking one from the Yellow Pages (if you are old school) or an Internet advertisement.
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 provides you with information you can use. They negotiate the final price with the seller’s agent. Once a price has been accepted, you have your home inspection. At this point, your lawyer works with your agent.
The seller’s attorney prepares the contract’s first draft in New York. 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. Your lawyer should check to see if the building has any lawsuits or liens, see how significant improvements are handled and building permits, speak to the property manager and review the building’s financial statements. You can do some of this work yourself, but it is highly recommended to have a trained lawyer. 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 provide 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 to get the keys and disburse the funds.
Attorneys’ fees are reasonable.Attorneys’ fees are reasonable.
A typical attorney’s fee is $2,000-$3,000. This is part of your closing costs, but one fee is well worth it.