Real Estate is not considered a specialty practice in New Jersey. The term "Real Estate Attorney" therefore refers to an attorney that devotes a significant portion of his/her practice to real estate transactions. This term does not indicate a certification in real estate practice.
Some considerations when choosing a real estate attorney may include:
- Availability of the attorney. Is he/she in court for days at a time? Many parts of a real estate transaction are time sensitive. A good real estate attorney will begin attorney review right away and will make sure all contract deadlines (inspections, mortgage commitment, etc.) are met.
- Communication. Real estate transactions generate a great deal of written communications; Contracts, attorney review letters, inspection reports, negotiation letters, title commitments, etc. Many of these items will require your review and comment. My policy is for you to see everything that is happening with your file as soon as it happens. We distribute everything as email attachments. All letters are forwarded via email to our clients and to the realtors. This includes items drafted within my offices as well as everything that comes in from outside sources.
- Fee structure. Most real estate attorneys will quote a flat fee for the entire transaction. Many other attorneys charge hourly rates.
- Cooperation: A real estate attorney will look for reasonable compromises that help meet the clients goals.
- Preparation: A real estate attorney will order title searches and property survey early in the process. Title issues will be found and cleared without risking delays to the closing date.
- Specialized Knowledge of real estate specific laws. A good real estate attorney will be able to provide guidance on every facet of the transaction. Some examples:
- Bulk Sale tax rules
- Realty Transfer Fees, Mansion Tax
- Out of State tax witholding
- RESPA changes and new CFPB and TRID procedures
- Closing Disclosure preparation and lender approval
- Seller concessions
- Debt Adjusters Act
- Clearing title issues
- Bankruptcy/Foreclosure rules affecting property ownership and ability to convey clear title
- Water testing requirements
- Common and specialized home inspections
- Underground oil tanks, risks and solutions
When choosing a real estate attorney, give him/her a call and interview them over the phone. Don't be afraid to ask about fees, availability, staff, procedures and experience. Make sure that your legal representative is a good fit for you.
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