Unlike some other U.S. states, California does not mandate that all parties to a real estate transaction hire attorneys to represent them at the closing.
However, it can be in your best interest to hire a real estate lawyer if you’re renting, buying, or selling a house, piece of land, or commercial building.
What’s a Real Estate Attorney – And How Can They Help You?
A real estate lawyer is someone licensed to offer advice on relevant real estate laws and handle legal tasks related to property transactions.
Whether you’re a renter, seller, buyer, or lender, the attorney’s main responsibility during the transaction process is to represent your interests. For example, if you engage a real estate attorney to help you buy a house, they’ll strive to shield you from any unknown liabilities that might be attached to the home.
A real estate attorney’s major functions include:
- Negotiating Property Deals. Experienced real estate attorneys handle property transactions every day, and they can use their expertise to negotiate for you a fair price for your dream home with reasonable terms and conditions.
- Drafting and Reviewing Contracts. The lawyer ensures that the real estate contract, whether it be for a rental, mortgage, or purchase agreement, is legally sound and has all the necessary clauses to protect your interests.
- Performing Title Searches. A title search is crucial when buying real estate since it shows that the seller is the legitimate owner of the property and can transfer ownership to you.
The search also tells you if the property has any liens on it, whether all property taxes have been paid, if there are any unresolved problems with the real estate that might prohibit you from gaining ownership of it, and much more.
A real estate lawyer may file a quiet title action if a title search uncovers a problem with a property that cannot be quickly resolved. A quiet title action is a lawsuit that asks anyone with a claim on the property to come forward or risk having their rights revoked by a court.
- Title Insurance Policy Drafting and Review. A title search might miss some liens or ownership problems on a piece of property. Any third-party claims that might materialize after a real estate transaction closes will be covered by title insurance.
- Resolving Property Disputes. The lawyer can represent you if you’re involved in a property disagreement by mediating a settlement or, if litigation ensues, appearing on your behalf in court.
A real estate lawyer may also represent you in judicial foreclosure proceedings, file a property change-of-use petition with the municipality on your behalf, draft and review leases and sublease agreements for both commercial and residential properties, negotiate construction agreements, and help draft home association rules that specify what property owners can and cannot do with their properties.
How to Find a Real Estate Attorney
If you choose to hire a San Diego, California, real estate lawyer because you want an unbiased third party to evaluate contracts and protect your interests during property transactions, here are a few tips to assist you find the finest lawyer to work with.
- Request Referrals from Your Family, Friends, and Personal Network. If someone you know has sold or bought a house and they engaged an attorney, you could ask them who they worked with and learn about their experience. This will help you know how the attorney handles real estate transactions and whether you might get along with them.
These days, social media is big, so you may also ask your contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., to recommend a reliable real estate lawyer. A recommendation from trustworthy coworkers, business contacts, acquaintances, or family members can greatly improve the efficiency of your real estate transactions.
- Use Official Referral Sources. You can find competent real estate law attorneys in your area by contacting your local state bar association. If you need assistance finding their website, use the American Bar Association directory.
- Research Online. There are many legal websites you can use to find details about reputable real estate lawyers in your area, including their specialty, rates, and client reviews.
How to Choose the Best Real Estate Lawyer for You
Once you’ve shortlisted a few real estate attorneys, there are several things you can take into account to help you pick one.
Individual real estate lawyers provide different types of services. Some have general knowledge covering all forms of property transactions, while others specialize in residential house development, sale, and purchase, commercial building transactions, such as office space, etc.
You should work with a lawyer that has years of experience in the type of real estate your transactions will concern.
A real estate attorney who is knowledgeable about the most recent local property laws will ensure you comply with these rules and avoid expensive real estate transaction mistakes.
Inquire about their client load when interviewing prospective real estate lawyers.
You can tell by their response if they’ll be available when you call or text them, as well as how much time they’ll likely spend assisting you with your legal needs.
You should also find out if they work independently or with a team. If your real estate lawyer isn’t available, you might be able to get help from one of their colleagues if they have a team.
But if you work with a personal attorney, you can get to know them well and rely on them to offer you solid legal advice on all your real estate transactions.
It’s acceptable to request client testimonials from a real estate lawyer. If they’re unwilling to offer references from prior clients or are unable to do so, you should be wary of hiring them.
The decision to engage a lawyer is a personal one because like I said earlier California doesn’t require you to consult a real estate attorney while completing a property deal.
So, you’ll probably want to keep the expense of legal fees as low as possible.
The majority of lawyers bill their clients on an hourly basis, but your prospective attorney may impose a flat fee or bill you in a hybrid way.
Whatever pricing option they suggest to you, be sure you’re comfortable with the cost of the legal consultations to prevent billing issues down the road if you decide to hire them.
Gallagher Krich, APC: Experienced San Diego, California, Real Estate Attorneys
If you’re searching for a skilled lawyer to assist you with real estate transactions and disputes, such as purchase agreements, construction contracts, leasing agreements, sellers’ nondisclosure, real estate mediation, issues involving homeowners associations, and much more, contact Gallagher Krich, APC today at (858) 926-5797 to schedule a consultation.
Once you get in touch, you can be confident that you’ll get the best legal assistance to conclude your real estate deal with the best terms and conditions possible with the guidance of our knowledgeable real estate attorneys, who have more than 30 years of combined legal experience.
To arrange a free consultation to learn more about California real estate law, get in touch with our offices now!