How do I choose an attorney to represent me when I’m buying or selling my home?

 

Choose Wisely

There are many attorneys who handle real estate closings. How hard could it be to choose one? The laws are so simple–what difference does it really make what attorney you use? Well, the reality is that many transactions go quite smoothly, and the average lawyer is good enough to get you through. But when things go awry, as they sometimes do, you’ll want an attorney that is willing to buckle down and “ride the bronco.” Nowadays, lenders are becoming more and more demanding.  The real estate buying process has seen dramatic changes based upon federal regulations enacted by the Consumer Financial protection Bureau.  You need an attorney that can navigate the complexities of contract negotiations, and the settlement process. Our attorney has “been there, done that” and we will be there for YOU–every step of the way.

Where to begin ?

Call the attorney and see if you can get him or her to come to the phone. Many firms will not even have an attorney speak with you until you’ve hired them. At our firm the attorney will call you and answer any questions you may have, and no fee will be charged for the call. Many firms rely on Realtor referrals for all their business. There is nothing wrong with you considering an attorney recommended by your Realtor, but you should try to call several attorneys to discuss your matter before making a decision to hire one.  Ask your friends and colleagues–after all the closings we’ve done over the years, there’s a chances we’ve represented them!

What to ask ?

Many clients hire attorneys based strictly on the fee charged, which is probably not the best way to choose a lawyer.  Your attorney should be able to clearly explain to you every charge you will pay at closing, even before the process starts. With rare exceptions, the costs can be estimated long before you even sign the contract to buy or sell.

The fees and costs vary widely from firm to firm. For example, some firms charge for “document preparation” fees, postage, photocopies and phone calls. But at our firm, those charges are included in our legal fee. Believe me–these things add up. And most firms will not disclose these charges until you are sitting at the table, signing the papers. Why not ask these questions fromCientTable the start, before the pressure is on?

Ask the attorney whether he or she will be able to come to the phone to answer your questions throughout the process.  Does the attorney have an experienced assistant that can speak to you, or will you be leaving messages on an answering machine whenever you call?  Will the attorney call you back within a reasonable time?

Has the attorney done closings before? Will the attorney meet with you to discuss the contract before you sign it? At our firm, the attorney will meet with you to discuss your transaction. And we understand every aspect of the closing process, including what the lender should be charging you, and what the title company is allowed to charge you. Our attorneys attend the closings–not paralegals. It makes a difference!

Does the attorney utilize an “outside” paralegal to assist him or her with real estate matters, often resulting in your dealing with someone who works for several attorneys in different offices and cannot always prioritize your legal matter? Everyone you’ll speak to in our office works exclusively for Richard F. Fried, Counselors at Law. Every person at our firm understands that you are our client, and your needs come first.

Does the attorney actually attend his or her closings? Or does the attorney send a paralegal to close your legal matter, even while you’re paying a premium to have a skilled attorney by your side when you need them most? Is the attorney even physically in the building, in case an issue arises where they need to step in during your closing? Our attorneys will be at the closing table, at your side.

If you’re selling your home, does the attorney mail your closing papers to the opposing attorney, sometimes called “closing in escrow,” even while you are paying a full legal fee in anticipation of them attending the closing in person, to insure that your interests are fully protected? Although it is becoming increasingly common, our firm does not engage in this practice. We do things the old fashioned way.  Sometimes just showing up is half the battle.

What about email?

You can email our attorneys directly, and you’ll get a response by phone or email. Our firm will provide you with copies of every letter we send and receive, and all documents you sign. We can email them as a “pdf” attachment as soon as we receive them, fax them, or mail them by regular mail. Let us know your preference.

Call for a consultation any hour of the day or night to speak to a live receptionist (or leave voicemail after hours) or fire off an email for a fast response at friedlawyer@aol.com

Contact us to discuss your situation over the phone or by email. We can give you an estimate in most cases.