One of the keys to your dream team
The purchase and sale of your investment properties will always be significant events in the investing process. So it’s obviously good protection to hire an attorney who specializes in real estate law for such complicated transactions.
It’s important to have a professional on your side as your advocate. You’ll want an attorney who’s been there before in many types of real estate matters. Because closings are much more complex now than ever before, with more legal paperwork being required by all parties to a transfer, you’ll need someone who’s very familiar with the process.
Whether you’re simply starting your search for an investment property, or about to place it on the market for sale, you should be looking for an attorney before you do either. And you’ll want to use the same attorney over and over, making them part of your property investment team. You certainly don’t want to be scrambling for an attorney to represent you right after you reach a verbal deal.
As the seller of property, the time period between an accepted offer and getting a contract out to a potential buyer is critical, so you really want that time gap as small as possible. Any delays in getting out a contract could kill a deal. And looking for the right attorney who suits you is time-consuming.
If you’re the purchaser of a house, an accepted offer is simply not legally enforceable without the strength of a written contract behind it. And not having an attorney already on board could delay the process. You could end up losing that great investment property deal.
Firming up the contract…
The attorney’s job in real estate transactions is very clear, regardless of which side of the table they’re sitting on. As the seller’s attorney, your attorney will ensure that the contract with the buyer is as firm as it can be.
If the attorney is working for you as the purchaser, they will make sure that a contract locks up the house at the agreed upon price and terms, subject to the kinds of protections you’ll need. (For example, being able to get out of the contract if you can’t obtain a mortgage).
Starting your search…
You can start your attorney search by asking for referrals from friends and family, or other real estate professionals. Also, most local county bar associations offer referral services. When doing your search, you’ll want to discuss several key items with prospects. First, ask how much experience they’ve had performing real estate closings.
Next, ask what sort of experience they’ve had with planning and land use issues (so you can ascertain their familiarity with easements, Certificates of Occupancy, building permits, etc.) since you don’t know what problems will come up prior to your closing
You‘re really looking for someone with a broad background in real estate matters. In addition, see how well your prospective attorney relates to you. Do you feel comfortable with them? Are you compatible?
You‘re going to be on the phone extensively during the whole buying or selling process, so you certainly need someone you can trust and work with easily.
One last note…
Finally, most attorneys charge a flat fee for closings. And they tend to be within a fairly tight range of price within your local area. Don’t choose an attorney simply on price alone. It doesn’t make sense to cut corners to save $100 or so for each of your precious investment transactions.
photos courtesy of find-a-los-angeles-lawyer.com, jamesportmeetinghouse.org, berkscourts.us