People hire legal counsel for all sorts of matters, ranging from civil lawsuits to mergers and acquisitions. Real estate is an area that people don’t often consider hiring a legal professional for, however having a real estate lawyer at your side when it comes to property transactions can be immensely helpful and even essential. This is especially the case for multifamily property investments, as this will likely be one of the most expensive transactions you will make.
Real estate lawyers handle a wide range of commercial and residential real estate dealings, including client representation in foreclosures, short sales, leases, as well as your average buying and selling transactions. With buying in particular, your real estate lawyer can oversee the closing process and look over any necessary documentation. Having a lawyer who is experienced and competent in your specific area of real estate can go a long way to ensuring a seamless transaction, especially if you’re in the business of multifamily property investment.
So you have your eye set on a once-in-a-lifetime multifamily property deal at an ideal location, and have chosen to select a real estate lawyer to work with. Now comes the careful selection process of which lawyer to go with – with so many reputable firms and professionals out there with varying specializations, this may be a tough choice to make. This is where you have to find the professional that’s the right fit for your specific needs. How should you go about doing that? You can start by asking friends and colleagues for a referral – recommendations from word-of-mouth can be reliable if they come from someone you trust.
Google searches can also tell you a lot about a lawyer. Having a solid online presence, such as a website with clearly laid out information about their services and pricing are green flags. You’ll also want to make sure they have a fair amount of online reviews, the majority of which should be positive. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have a quick chat with them to get a sense of their personality and communication style, as this makes a sizable difference.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices – and yes, it’s not a bad idea to talk to multiple lawyers – it’s time to conduct some quality screening. Here are three essential questions to ask in this process:
How long have you been practicing real estate law?
The general idea is that the more complicated the transaction, such as for a commercial property with a large number of units, the more experienced the lawyer should be – though keep in mind they will cost more. Along with this question, you should find out how many years they have practiced in your province, and even your city, as real estate laws can vary across regions.
Have you handled cases like mine?
Every real estate transaction is unique and you’ll want to find a lawyer well-versed in cases similar to yours – namely multifamily property ownership. It’s highly beneficial to choose a lawyer who has handled the same type of transaction involved as they would be familiar with the intricate processes and be able to anticipate potential problems and resolve them. While you can’t ask for specific details about previous cases they’ve worked in, it’s a good idea to ask how they would approach your situation. This way, you get a good grasp on their competence and how knowledgeable they are in your area.
Will you be working with anyone else on my case?
If you’re considering working with a larger firm for a transaction, it’s worth noting that part of the lawyer’s workload may be passed to legal assistants and paralegals, so you should be sure that you’re comfortable with your information being shared with people other than your selected lawyer. In doing so, you should inquire about your options when you have questions about your case, as in who you can reach out to if your lawyer isn’t available.
Lastly, just by chatting with a lawyer can tell you a lot about whether they would be a good fit to work with you. Through informal conversation, you get a sense of their personality and communication style. Do they talk down to you, and do they get easily annoyed by questions you ask? Do they take weeks to respond to emails? All these seemingly trivial details are also crucial in ensuring a successful partnership and transaction. You want to make sure that your lawyer is not only competent in your area, but also someone you can rely on and work well with.