5 Things to Consider When Choosing a NYC Real Estate Attorney

When buying or selling a property, a knowledgeable lawyer that practices Real Estate law will help make sure you get exactly what you want out of the transaction.

1. Knowledge of New York City Residential Transactions

The “Concrete Jungle” has a unique housing stock unlike anywhere else in the U.S. For example, the great majority of Co-ops that exist in the U.S. are in New York City. Because of these unique features, there are intricacies to closing a NYC Real Estate Transaction that a well-qualified attorney can help to explain. These include things like knowledge of local regulations, understanding the custom and practices in cooperative, condominium and house purchases, experience dealing with the New York City network of brokers. Additionally, it is preferable to have an attorney who has completed sales in the building, or similar buildings, that you plan to buy/sell in. Knowledge in the field means knowing what to look for to ensure the transaction goes as smoothly as possible.

2. Personalized Attention

You do not want a Real Estate Attorney who takes a cookie cutter approach to one of the most important transactions of your life. A good real estate attorney will give you personalized attention and be available to answer the questions you have when they come up. To achieve this, it is important to have a team of individuals working on your transaction, rather than just one person. Extra sets of eyes ensure that details are not overlooked.

Also, you want to make sure that an attorney is working on your transaction, not just a paralegal or an administrative assistant. Some firms assign only a paralegal to the transaction, a practice we do not employ. Many times we have two attorneys working on one transaction, both for a smooth client experience and to allocate resources where they are most needed.

Like a doctor with good bedside manner, a good attorney will form a close bond with their client that is based on mutual respect and trust. Despite all the lawyer jokes you may have heard, most attorneys are hard-working, excellence driven, respectful individuals who are trying to do their best for their clients. Our firm puts a focus on this aspect of the relationship because we feel it is the centerpiece of the real estate transaction puzzle.

3. Fees

Fees will vary depending on the size and complexity of a transaction. They will generally be structured as a flat fee, with half payable up front and the balance payable after closing. Factors that affect the fee, include but are not limited to: (1) whether the purchase will be made in cash or require a mortgage; (2) if there is a lender, whether it is an institutional or a private lender; (3) whether the transaction involves Federal or State tax withholdings; (4) whether the client will be able to attend the closing; (5) whether there are any anticipated title issues; (6) whether the transaction includes anything that is not part of the normal process of buying or selling a property in NYC.

Some firms will refer to all or a portion of the fee as “non-refundable.” We do not agree with this approach and will refund any unused portion of the retainer on any transaction. Other firms will say “no fee if we do not get you to the closing.” We do not agree with this approach either, as we feel it will create a conflict of interest where the attorney may unconsciously rush to conclude a transaction or hold back emphasis on any issues that arise that might jeopardize the transaction in any way.

See an article on the firm’s origin and philosophy here.

4. Provide Consultation and Guidance on all Aspects of the Transactions

A good real estate attorney will advise you on all of the risks associated with the transaction and guide you on how to proceed. They will advise you, not only on the legal aspects of the transaction, but also help you to identify and manage the wide assortment of risks that affect the viability of a residential transaction. This includes reviewing board minutes, building financials, the offering plan, and other important documents. In addition, an attorney will help you coordinate a loan commitment, negotiate a contract for a sale and much more.

A good attorney will also know how to allow a client to be a valuable resource as well. Even if a client knows nothing about real estate or financing, they can still provide key information about the condition of the property, what it looks like, what they expect to receive, and what their most important needs are from the property. A good attorney will know when to ask questions and when to provide answers, while a not-so-good attorney thinks they know all the answers and never asks a single question.

5. Team Player with Proven Track Record

It is important to choose an attorney who is empathetic to your needs, works well with others, and has a proven track record supported by professional referrals. Ultimately, choosing an attorney is a very personal process. Check out information on our firm here!

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