Skip to content
SuperMoney logo
SuperMoney logo

How To Find A Good Real Estate Lawyer

Last updated 05/08/2024 by

Benjamin Locke

Edited by

Real estate lawyers specialize in property-related legal matters, but many people are unsure when their services are necessary. Their expertise covers a range of issues, from contract drafting to dispute resolution. Understanding when to engage a real estate lawyer can save you from potential legal headaches in property transactions.

Compare Home Loans

Compare rates from multiple vetted lenders. Discover your lowest eligible rate.
Compare Rates

What do real estate lawyers do exactly?

Real estate lawyers ensure that contracts are error-free and legally enforceable, which is essential for protecting your interests throughout any property transaction. They also provide critical oversight during property transactions, identifying potential legal issues before they become costly problems. By facilitating smooth communication between all parties involved, they help to expedite the entire process and prevent misunderstandings. In general, real estate lawyers will take care of the following:
Drafting and Reviewing ContractsReal estate lawyers draft and scrutinize contracts to ensure they are legally sound and reflect your best interests. This includes purchase agreements, lease agreements, and financing contracts.
Conducting Title SearchesLawyers conduct title searches to verify the seller’s right to transfer ownership and discover any title defects or liens that could complicate the transaction.
Handling Closing ProceduresThey manage the closing process, which involves the finalization of the contracts and passing of the property’s title from the seller to the buyer, ensuring that all documents are executed correctly.
Negotiating TermsReal estate lawyers negotiate on behalf of their clients to secure favorable terms and protect their interests, especially in complex deals involving large assets or commercial properties.
Addressing Legal IssuesThey address any issues that arise during the transaction, such as disputes over boundaries, easements, or previous undisclosed terms.
Providing Legal AdviceLawyers provide advice on legal rights and obligations, zoning laws, property taxes, and any potential legal liabilities associated with the property.

How to find a good real estate lawyer

Identifying your needs

Before searching for a lawyer, define what you need them for, whether it’s a property purchase, a sale, or a legal dispute related to real estate. Consider if your situation requires specific expertise, such as understanding local property laws or handling complex commercial transactions. This clarity will help in selecting a lawyer who is well-suited to address your specific legal concerns.

Pro Tip

“When vetting a real estate attorney, start by checking their status with your state’s bar association to ensure they are in good standing. Online reviews and ratings on platforms like Martindale-Hubbell can also provide insight into their reputation and expertise. During consultations, ask about their experience with cases similar to yours, their approach to resolving potential legal issues, and their fee structure. It’s crucial to inquire how they communicate with clients and about the expected timeline for your case. These questions will help assess their expertise and whether their style aligns with your needs.” – Kyle Bazylo, CEO of Selling South Winnipeg

Researching potential lawyers

Start by asking for recommendations from friends or family who have recently dealt with real estate transactions. Professional referrals from your realtor or mortgage broker can also be valuable. Additionally, local bar associations often provide lawyer referral services that can help you find a lawyer with the necessary expertise in real estate law.
Here is a list of the bar associations of each state:
State Bar Associations
NevadaNew HampshireNew Jersey
New MexicoNew YorkNorth Carolina
North DakotaOhioOklahoma
OregonPennsylvaniaRhode Island
South CarolinaSouth DakotaTennessee
VirginiaWashingtonWest Virginia

Checking qualifications and experience

Ensure the lawyer specializes in real estate law. Check their credentials and how long they have been practicing. Experience in specific areas like commercial real estate or tenancy laws might be particularly important depending on your needs. Also, verify if they are in good standing with the state bar association and have no history of disciplinary actions.

Reviewing past client reviews

Look at reviews from past clients on platforms like Google and Yelp to gauge the lawyer’s reputation. Positive feedback from clients can provide insights into their reliability and performance. Be mindful of how the lawyer handles criticisms and negative reviews as this can reveal their professionalism and dedication to client satisfaction.

Interviewing candidates

Interview multiple lawyers to find one you are comfortable with. Discuss their approach to your case, their fees, and how they will communicate with you throughout the process. It’s important to ask about their availability and whether they will handle your case personally or delegate it to a junior attorney. This can significantly affect the quality of service you receive and your overall satisfaction.

Understanding fee structures

Real estate lawyers can charge in various ways: flat fees, hourly rates, or a percentage of the real estate transaction. Understand the fee structure to avoid surprises. Inquire about any additional charges that might apply, such as document handling fees or expenses related to your case. This will help you budget accurately and compare costs between different lawyers.

Making your choice

Choose a lawyer who is communicative, transparent, and within your budget. They should make you feel confident in their ability to handle your case. Ensure they have a clear plan of action and are proactive in keeping you informed about the progress of your transaction or case. The right lawyer will not only meet your legal needs but also provide peace of mind throughout the process.

Should you get a real estate lawyer?

Whether you should get a real estate lawyer depends on the complexity of your property transaction, the legal requirements in your jurisdiction, and any potential risks involved. If you’re dealing with high-value transactions, legal disputes, or complex property issues, a real estate lawyer can provide essential guidance and protection. For straightforward transactions without legal complications, you might not need a lawyer, especially if costs are a significant concern.
Here is what you should consider when deciding on whether to use a real estate lawyer.
When You Need a Real Estate Lawyer
  • Complex transactions: If you’re dealing with a high-value or commercially complex property, a real estate lawyer can navigate the intricate legal requirements.
  • Legal disputes: Any potential legal issues, such as boundary disputes or previous liens against the property, require professional legal assistance to resolve.
  • Documentation and compliance: Lawyers ensure all documents are correctly drafted and that the transaction complies with local and federal laws.
When You Don’t Need a Real Estate Lawyer
  • Simple transactions: For straightforward transactions, such as buying a new condo directly from a developer, the process is often standardized and may not require a lawyer.
  • Cost considerations: Hiring a lawyer can be expensive, and for smaller transactions, the cost may outweigh the benefits.
  • Well-documented properties: If a property has a clear title and no history of legal issues, you might proceed with a trusted real estate agent instead.


Can a real estate lawyer help with property tax issues?

Real estate lawyers are equipped to handle property tax issues by contesting assessments, representing homeowners in tax appeal boards, and providing advice on tax implications of real estate transactions. They can guide you through exemptions you may be eligible for, help correct property tax records, and represent you in court if necessary, ensuring that you’re not paying more than you’re required to under the law.

Is a real estate lawyer necessary for transferring property titles within a family?

Engaging a real estate lawyer for intra-family property title transfers is highly recommended. They can help navigate the intricacies of estate planning, gift taxes, and the creation of legal documents such as quitclaim deeds. A lawyer will ensure the transaction adheres to state laws and that the title is transferred smoothly without future legal repercussions or misunderstandings among family members.

How does a real estate lawyer interact with my mortgage lender during a purchase?

A real estate lawyer liaises with your mortgage lender to review the terms of the mortgage, ensures that the mortgage complies with state and federal laws, and confirms that the financing conditions are met before closing. They can also clarify the legal jargon in mortgage documents, negotiate terms on your behalf, and attend the closing to address any last-minute issues that may arise with the lender.

What happens if a real estate transaction falls through? Can a real estate lawyer help me recover my deposit?

If a real estate transaction falls through, a real estate lawyer can help in determining if you are entitled to recover your deposit based on the terms of the contract and state laws. They can negotiate with the seller or their agent, initiate mediation, or, if necessary, represent you in a lawsuit to recover the deposit. The lawyer will also advise you on how to proceed with the least financial loss and legal liability.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate lawyers are pivotal in ensuring error-free, legally enforceable contracts and in providing oversight to prevent costly legal issues.
  • They play a key role in drafting documents, conducting title searches, handling closing procedures, negotiating terms, resolving disputes, and offering legal advice.
  • Choosing the right lawyer involves identifying needs, researching candidates, checking qualifications, reviewing past client feedback, and understanding fee structures.
  • A lawyer is essential in complex transactions or legal disputes but may not be necessary for straightforward transactions with clear titles and no legal issues.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

Loading results ...

Share this post:

You might also like