The cost of a real estate attorney will vary based on the experience of the attorney, the services provided, and the location. In many cases, the cost of a real estate attorney, or closing attorney, is included when an individual purchases property.
In some cases, it may seem that a real estate attorney may be an unnecessary expense. However, it is extremely important that property transactions are handled properly and accurately to avoid future disputes.
Attorney’s fees are an investment in the ownership of property. The average cost of a real estate attorney is between $100 and $400 per hour. Some very experienced attorneys, however, may charge as much as $1,000 per hour.
Since the cost of an attorney may vary, it is essential to discuss the hourly rate prior to hiring a real estate lawyer. An individual can expect to pay more if the attorney has extensive experience or if the transaction involves expensive property.
The average cost of a real estate attorney varies greatly depending on factors related to the complexity of the case, the skills of the attorney, and the location of the property. There are three types of fees that lawyers in general use to bill for their work, including:
- Hourly rates;
- Contingency fees; and
- Flat fee.
An hourly rate fee schedule is a common way for real estate attorneys to bill for their work. In certain cases, they may charge a retainer fee, or an amount that is paid in advance which is based on their hourly rate.
The lawyer will deduct from this retainer amount until it is used. After the retainer is expended, the lawyer’s hourly rate will apply. These fees are usually non-refundable.
A second type of fee arrangement an attorney may use is a contingency fee. This type of fee is not generally used in real estate cases, but is typically used in personal injury cases. This is because the attorney’s contingency fee depends on winning the case and collecting from a damages award.
Another type of fee arrangement which is commonly used in real estate transactions is the flat fee. A flat fee is often used in cases that are more likely to be simple.
For example, if the transaction is a simple purchase or sale of a property, the attorney may charge, on average, $1,500 to $4,000. This amount may vary by state.
In most cases, a real estate attorney is paid by flat fee at the completion of the real estate transaction. Most individuals who have purchased or sold a home are familiar with this process.
How are Real Estate Attorney Fees Calculated?
Real estate attorney fees are calculated based on a number of factors. As noted above, an experienced attorney in a large city will most likely charge more than a new lawyer in a small town. Other factors may affect the fee rate, including:
- The type of representation the attorney will provide;
- The services the attorney will perform; and
- The fee arrangement for the case.
The type of representation the attorney will provide is a major factor in determining the cost. The more complex the issues or the more valuable the property, the more likely the cost will rise. This also applies if there are other issues involved with the property, such as a clouded title or boundary disputes.
The cost of the attorney will also rise based on the services they are providing. For example, a simple home purchase will cost less than a large commercial real estate purchase or lease and an analysis of the compliance of the business with local zoning laws.
The type of fee arrangement used is another major factor in the cost of a real estate lawyer. The overall cost will vary depending on whether the lawyer:
- Charges an hourly fee;
- Charges a flat fee; or
- Is retained and provides advice on an as-needed basis.
Other factors that are taken into consideration when determining a real estate attorney’s fees include:
- The amount of time and effort the lawyer will put into the case;
- The complexity or perceived difficulty of the work;
- The skills that are required to perform the services;
- If the attorney has any specialized training or education;
- The average attorney’s fees charged in the area for similar legal services completed by lawyers with similar skills, experience, and reputation; and
- Whether the lawyer charges an hourly fee or a fixed rate.
It is important to remember that even though a client is paying for the real estate lawyer’s work, they may also be required to pay for other up-front costs associated with the transaction, which may include:
- Filing fees;
- Deed recording fees; and
- Other related fees.
What are Some Services That Real Estate Attorneys Perform?
Real estate attorneys provide a wide range of services. These may include:
- Buying property;
- Selling property;
- Use of property;
- Leasing residential property; and
- Leasing commercial property.
Property law is the area of law that governs real estate and property issues, which may include:
- Property title disputes;
- Property line disputes;
- Landlord and tenant disputes; and
- Zoning/land use issues.
Real estate and property law also governs the financing aspect of property, including:
An individual should consult a real estate attorney when they are buying or selling property or leasing property that they already own. Real estate attorneys may also be known as:
- Real estate lawyers;
- Tenant lawyers; and
- HOA attorneys.
Real estate attorneys may provide important services, such as assisting clients with avoiding foreclosure. They can also assist with landlord and tenant issues, such as evictions, leases, and subletting.
Real estate attorneys can also assist with issues involving condominiums and cooperatives. These types of common interest communities are governed by conditions, covenants, and restrictions. Violations of these rules often involve fines.
Another common issue handled by a real estate attorney involves construction disputes. These types of disputes often arise in the construction industry. A real estate attorney can assist with following the required procedural rules and collecting the necessary documents to prove a breach of construction contract, which may be a costly issue for all parties involved.
What are the Advantages to Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer?
There are many advantages to hiring a real estate lawyer. Real estate transactions can be complex and involve multiple legal issues.
Having a real estate lawyer assisting with real estate transactions ensures that the transaction will be properly handled in compliance with the law. It is important to ensure that the property being sold or purchased is accurately described because, if this step is not properly completed, it may cause ownership disputes in the future.
Do I Need to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer?
Yes, it is very important to have the assistance of an experienced real estate lawyer for any real estate related issues. Property law and real estate issues can involve multiple areas of law and may be very complex.
In addition, real estate laws vary by state. In most cases, real estate purchases and sales will involve a large amount of money and, in some cases, even your life savings. Your real estate lawyer can review your issues, prepare any required legal documents for the sale or purchase of property, and represent you if you are required to appear in court for a real estate dispute.