Both buyers and sellers often ask for a recommendation of local real estate attorneys to handle their home purchase or sales contract and closing. There are some important differences among Hoboken real estate lawyers that buyers and sellers should be aware of when choosing an attorney to represent them in a Hoboken real estate transaction? Here are some of the first questions that you as a buyer or seller should ask:
Communication – Is the lawyer is easily to reach by phone and email?
Availability – Is he or she available during the time frame of the transaction to properly handle the matter and not too busy with other work or going on vacation?
Cost – What does the attorney charge to handle a real estate closing? It’s your money, you have the right to know.
Chemistry – Does the personality of the potential lawyer “click” with yours? You’re going to be dealing with each other for the next few months so you should feel comfortable with him or her.
I’m an attorney and spent a number of years practicing law on Wall Street and in corporate America. As such, I’m pretty familiar with the usual criteria by which attorneys are often judged – good credentials (top law school, editor of the law review, clerkship, prestigious firm), lots of relevant transactional experience, adequate support staff, fees charged for services, and general customer/client service. While those things may be important, there is another critical component to the success of your real estate transaction that is often overlooked.
Your attorney should keep your realtor in the loop. In my experience, many lawyers don’t seem to want to deal with their client’s real estate agent. Everyone should be working towards a common goal – to get the deal closed. Common sense would suggest that the attorney copy the agent on communications that relate to the deal. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. When that happens, the agents don’t know if problems are developing. Often it comes to the attention of the agent when it’s too late to fix. Remember, the attorney gets paid no matter what. Only the agents don’t make a penny unless the deal closes. So when you are interviewing lawyers ask them more than where they went to law school and if they are familiar with Hoboken real estate deals. Find out if they make it a practice to personally take calls from your real estate agent and generally keep them up to date on the status of your deal.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about which comes from an actual experience. The buyers do a home inspection and give the report to their lawyer. They ask that the central air that’s not working properly to be repaired. The seller doesn’t want to do it and wants to give the buyers a credit for the cost of the repair instead. Through the lawyers, both buyer and seller are stubborn and won’t compromise. It escalates to the point where the buyers are ready to walk away. The lawyers never bother to let the realtors know that there is a problem and the buyer and seller tell their respective agents that the lawyers are handling the inspection issues. More often than you would imagine, had the agents known of the problem they would spend the time it takes discussing with each other possible compromise solutions to proprose to the parties. Then the agent would each get their side to give in a little and they work it out and buyer and seller come to an agreement. Of course, this takes a little of back and forth and a lot of time. The realtors, however, are the ones with the monetary motivation to take the time and make the effort to resolve the problem before it kills the deal.
When you are looking for a lawyer to represent you, you might be wise to ask them about their willingness to include your realtor in the correspondence and to take his or her calls and not pass them off to the paralegal or secretary. Believe me, if it wasn’t important the realtor wouldn’t be calling. Remember, you are the client and if you request that your attorney keep your agent in the loop as the deal progresses, there is little reason for them not to do so. It is in your best interest to keep things on track.