Don R. White Jr.

Real estate lawyers are invaluable assets to have on your side to provide sound guidance and counsel for a myriad of issues pertaining to property law. Generally speaking, however, low-key real estate transactions do not necessarily call for an attorney’s expertise. People oftentimes reach out to their real estate broker or agent when questions about their transactions arise. But when people need answers and/or solutions for high-stakes real estate matters, such as short sale properties; foreclosure; residential investment; eminent domain; or condemnation, it’s in their best interest to call upon a real estate attorney for assistance. In addition to the questions you may have about your real estate matters, there are several questions to ask a real estate lawyer before hiring him or her to render services.

Questions to Ask a Real Estate Lawyer

First and foremost, it’s important to note that not all lawyers are the same. Some specialize in one area of law while others specialize in completely different areas. So if you need a lawyer’s assistance for a property matter, be sure to reach out to a real estate attorney from the beginning. That being said, here is a list of questions you should ask a real estate lawyer:

  1. How long have you practiced real estate law? This is an essential question to ask real estate lawyer, especially for high-stakes matters. For an issue pertaining to something like acquiring a residential development, you’ll want a real estate lawyer with a lot of experience to his or her name. On the other hand, for matters like a simple purchase agreement, a newbie lawyer could be the perfect match for you.
  2. Are you Board Certified in real estate? The Texas Board of Legal Specialization actually recognizes commercial and residential real estate law as specialties. To achieve Board Certification, a real estate attorney must: take and pass a rigorous examination; concentrate at least 20 percent of his practice in that area of expertise; submit a list of references consisting of other attorneys and judges; and maintain higher hours of attendance at continuing legal education classes in the area of expertise. Once an attorney achieves certification, he or she must be re-certified every five years. Asking a real estate attorney if he or she is Board Certified provides assurance that you are consulting with someone who knows the issues and how to address them.
  3. Did you graduate from an accredited law school? Don’t be afraid to ask a real estate lawyer this question. It is important for your legal counselor to be proficient in property law in order to handle your case.
  4. How many real estate cases have you handled that are comparable to mine? Like lawyers, not all real estate matters are the same. Ask a real estate lawyer this question to gain further insight into his or her expertise. If your real estate attorney has handled cases like yours before, he or she will be able to anticipate possible complications and alter his or her process as necessary.
  5. How will you handle my real estate matter? Do not be intimidated to ask a real estate lawyer this question. If he or she has a firm grasp on the subject matter, he or she will be able to outline a general course of action for your case. If you get ambiguous answers, it may be prudent to look elsewhere for another real estate attorney.
  6. How will you bill me for services? Asking a real estate lawyer this question at the first consultation can save you the headache of dealing with surprises later down the road.

These inquiries do not make up an all-inclusive list of questions to ask a real estate lawyer. So if you can think of any others, be sure to ask. Finally, if you’re dealing with a real estate matter and don’t know where to turn, consider contacting the real estate attorneys at the Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant law firm for their expert guidance and counsel. We’d be glad to help in any way we can.