Knowing When to Engage a Real Estate Attorney

By: ROS Team

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Buying and selling a property can be complicated. There are countless rules and regulations that govern property management and it can become overwhelming. Real estate lawyers can be pricey ( most charge an hourly rate), but they can definitely help you navigate through the buying or selling process.

Engage a Real Estate Attorney

An Attorney’s Role:

The foundation of a sound property deal is the sales contract. This document tends to be a laundry list of legalese that outlines the terms of the transaction and what happens should those terms not be upheld. An attorney is often best equipped to draft or even review sales contracts.

Once everything is settled and the contract is prepared, it would be subject to the final signature of the buyer and seller. In some cases, a real estate attorney could also help manage any down payments required at the time the deal takes place. But he or she rarely interferes with any part of the deal itself.

An Attorney Role

A real estate attorney would also be your go-to for reviewing any property documents (i.e. deeds, surveys, etc.) and following up on any noted discrepancies. In addition, a real estate attorney would prepare the closing documents and ensure the documents are properly executed and filed with the proper government agencies.

They are also a great resource for explaining the purpose of each document and translating any legal jargon into layman’s terms for you.

Are Sellers Required to Hire Real Estate Attorneys?

Yes, NYC buyers and sellers are required to have legal counsel represent or accompany them at closing.

Finding a Good Real Estate Attorney:

Attorneys are said to come to a dime a dozen. But finding a good one takes some effort. If you are about to do any real estate deal and are in need of a good real estate attorney, here are some tips for finding one.

  • If you know one, Ask to be Referred

If your social network includes an attorney or two, reach out to them and let them know what’s going on. Of course, if you happen to know an attorney who specializes in real estate, definitely ask if they have the bandwidth to take you on as a client for your purchase or property sale. Otherwise, ask the lawyers in your circle if they have anyone in their networks that they could recommend.

  • Get a Recommendation from an Agent

Real estate agents are some of the most well-connected professionals in the real estate game. If your social circle doesn’t include any attorneys, consult with your agent. He or she would certainly know some trusted people who he can recommend to you.

Read Also: Why Should You Hire Real Estate Agent in NYC

  • Ask Friends and Family

Never underestimate family and friends–it’s possible they could recommend someone they’d worked with on a property deal. Better still, they may have a real estate attorney in their network to whom they can refer you.

  • Contact the NY Bar Association

The NY Bar Association maintains a current database of all attorneys who are authorized to practice law in the state. The database will also provide information about each attorney’s field of law and will provide any negative reports or issues filed against the attorney.

  • Search Online for Local Lawyers

Thanks to the availability of search engines like Google and Bing, searching for an attorney online is a breeze. Plus, many sites also provide client feedback which gives you a glimpse of what to expect should you choose to hire him or her.


Attorneys often get a bad rap, but they come in handy for property deals. With good legal counsel, you can rest assured your property sale or purchase is legit.