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Do I Need a Real Estate Attorney?

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

do i need a real estate attorney

Do I need a real estate attorney? When dealing with real estate in New York, whether it’s purchasing or selling, having a real estate attorney is a must. Not only is a real estate attorney familiar with the steps involved in the purchase and sale process, but will be familiar with the New York laws involved to advise you and steer you in the right direction in order to best accomplish your goals. In this article, we shall be addressing the following:

  1. What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?
  2. When Will You Need a Real Estate Lawyer?
  3. How do I find a real estate attorney?
  4. How Much Does a Real Estate Attorney Cost?
  5. What Should I Expect When Working with a Real Estate Attorney?

Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney?

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1. What Does a Real Estate Lawyer Do?

What is a real estate lawyer? A real estate attorney is an attorney that specializes in real estate transactions. Accordingly, they are equipped to prepare and review documents relating to real estate. Such documents are purchase agreements, mortgage documents, title documents, transfer documents, and leases.

What does a real estate attorney do? One of the key roles a real estate lawyer plays is that of document drafter. Real estate attorneys prepare deeds for conveyance transactions, leases and rental agreements, purchase contracts and financing agreements. Although New York state law allows real estate agents to help clients fill out these types of documents, only licensed lawyers can actually draft and revise those documents. This then answers the question of what is a real estate lawyer.

So now you may be asking yourself, what can a real estate attorney do for you?

Negotiate Transactions

What do real estate attorneys do? Since real estate lawyers have experience and a background with many types of real estate transactions, clients often ask their real estate lawyer to negotiate the terms and conditions of real estate deals. This then involves working with other attorneys, developers, brokers and investors.

Review Sales Transactions

What do real estate attorneys do? In addition to the above, real estate attorneys also review and provide advice on real estate transactions. Clients will negotiate their deals through their agents, if any, and then ask the lawyer to perform the “due diligence” on the deal. This means the lawyer will examine legal title issues, environmental issues and reports and any of the contracts or other documents involved in the transaction.

Real estate lawyers have the training that allows them to spot problems that their clients do not recognize. This then allows the real estate lawyer to act as guardian for their clients to make sure the clients don’t end up in any legal pitfalls.


What does a real estate attorney do? Should the real estate transactions not work out, litigation is usually the end result. Some real estate lawyers represent their clients in real estate litigation. This includes drafting legal pleadings to file with the court, participating in hearings and trial with the judge, and filing appeals if necessary. It also includes negotiating with opposing counsel to try and work out a settlement.

Foreclosure Proceedings

What do real estate attorneys do? Some real estate attorneys focus on mortgage foreclosure matters. Some of those lawyers represent lenders while others represent borrowers. The lawyers representing lenders help guide lenders correctly through the foreclosure process, which may include filing a lawsuit in court.

On the other hand, the lawyers representing borrowers oppose the foreclosing lender by challenging any mistakes made in the foreclosure process, and by negotiating with the lender for a settlement agreement to stop the foreclosure process.

2. When Will You Need a Real Estate Lawyer?

What can a real estate attorney do for you? Although a real estate agent may be good for answering certain basic questions, oftentimes, a legal issue will arise that requires legal counsel. When do you need a real estate attorney? All the time. In fact, in New York, certain attorney involvement regarding oversight and direction in all aspects of a real estate transfer is required, from title to signing documents.

When do you need a real estate attorney? A real estate attorney is especially recommended when any legal matter arises. This includes issues dealing with:

  • Oil and gas rights
  • Riparian rights (i.e., access to water)
  • Beachfront property
  • Easements
  • Adverse Possession
  • Historical property
  • Preserved property (i.e., farm preservation)
  • Zoning and/or land use disputes

What can a real estate attorney do for you? When any of these issues arise at the outset of a real estate transaction, working with an attorney will inevitably be more cost-effective than dealing with a major conflict or claim later. In addition, the attorney can help review the title and ancillary documentation to ensure all documents comply with state and federal laws.

Do I need a lawyer to buy a house? When do you need a lawyer when buying a home? Likewise, working with an attorney in a high-value residential transaction can be extremely important, particularly given the extent of the investment.

When making a major real property purchase, buyers should ensure that the property is in ideal shape, and also demand a full home inspection, so as to determine if there are any hidden defects. Not only can an attorney work with the home inspector to ensure the property meets the buyers’ expectations, but the attorney can help negotiate with the seller if any issues arise.

When do you need a lawyer for buying a home? In addition, high-end real estate may be subject to several liens, encumbrances, or judgments. A proper title search by an experienced real estate lawyer and title company is the best way to ensure that these issues do not pass to the buyer on settlement day.

when do you need a lawyer when buying a home

But do I need a lawyer to buy a house? Yes. If you are interested in purchasing a home, before you submit an offer, you’ll definitely want to consult a real estate attorney NYC before the offer is submitted, so they can draft it properly in writing. Failure to do so may result in your offer being rejected because it wasn’t communicated properly, or worse yet, being accepted and since your offer wasn’t drafted properly, you’re negatively impacted. Upon acceptance of buyer’s offer, it is customary for the seller’s attorney to prepare the Contract of Sale. The job of the Buyer’s attorney then is to review the contract in detail and make sure that it’s safe to sign for the buyer and make the necessary changes.

3. How Do I Find a Real Estate Attorney?

How do you find a real estate lawyer? Specifically, when do you need a lawyer for buying a home? When it comes to finding the right real estate lawyer for you, you need to make sure that your realty lawyer has both the experience and knowledge to handle your issue.

When interviewing a potential realty lawyer your main goal is to get a sense of the attorney’s experience in handling real estate transactions. You also will want to judge whether the attorney is someone with whom you would feel comfortable working with.

Be sure to ask important questions, such as how much the attorney’s fees will be and whether the attorney will personally be handling your case, or another lawyer in the law firm. If so, ask if you will have the chance to meet with him or her regarding your real estate transaction.

Keep in mind that at your initial consultation, you will probably not receive specific legal advice about your real estate transaction, but will be given an idea of the steps that the attorney will take in order to handle your real estate transaction.

You’ll also want to ensure that each real estate attorney is certified to practice law and is in good standing. Check with the New York state bar association for resources to determine which attorneys are in good standing, as opposed to those whose law licenses have been suspended or are subject to disciplinary proceedings.

In order to find a real estate lawyer, you’ll want to clarify each attorney’s fee structure. After meeting with each attorney, you should have a clear idea as to how much the attorney charges and a good estimate of how much it will cost you to have the attorney represent you in your case. This should be clear regardless as to whether the attorney bills by the hour or charges a flat fee. It is also important to know the amount of any retainer that you must pay in order to hire the attorney. While unexpected costs and problems certainly can arise in your case, an experienced real estate attorney will be able to give you a fairly clear picture of the type of fees that you will be facing

Clarify who will actually work on your case. Sometimes attorneys hand over the initial work to junior attorneys or someone else who knows the law. During your consultation, ask who will work on your case and whether you are comfortable with that person or not.

You should also pay attention to small things before you make your preference. How do attorneys treat you? Are they in a hurry while talking to you? How long do they take to call you back? How approachable are they?

After the contract is signed, your attorney will need to do several things to prepare for a closing. First, the attorney will order a title report to see if there are any issues that the seller must resolve before closing. These may include liens or violations against the property.

Your attorney will work with you to provide information and documents requested by lenders in connection with your mortgage applications. Also, your attorney will calculate the amounts that you will owe at closing to the seller, the seller’s lender, and the title company, among others.

Finally, your attorney will represent you at the closing, reviewing and advising you on the documents that you are signing, such as the deed, transfer tax returns, mortgage documents, and making sure that all payments are accurately made.

4. How Much Does a Real Estate Attorney Cost?

How much does a real estate attorney cost? When it comes to determining how much a real estate lawyer costs, the response will depend upon the experience of the real estate attorney and the type of matter you have. Drafting a quit claim deed will be different from searching a property to determine if it is free and clear of any liens or encumbrances and that it is a clear title. Accordingly, the more complicated the matter is and the more experienced the attorney, the higher the fee and cost will be.

What is the cost of a real estate attorney for closing? Although real estate attorney fees vary, with some charging by the hour with rates ranging from $150 to $350 per hour, while others offer a fixed rate to conduct a real estate closing, in New York, you can probably expect to pay $1,500 or more if you hire an attorney for a closing.

5. What Should I Expect When Working with a Real Estate Attorney?

What can a real estate attorney do for you? Just what do real estate attorneys do? Real estate lawyers are educated and experienced in the legal aspects of real estate transactions. Sometimes he or she will be hired at the beginning of a transaction, advising, and guiding the process from the start. Other times, real estate lawyers are only hired to act as litigators if a dispute arises in the process of a transaction. Residential real estate lawyers can prepare and manage mortgage, perform a title search, draft a purchase agreement, and prepare the closing documents associated with buying a home.

Law Office of Yuriy Moshes

At Law Office of Yuriy Moshes, we are experienced and knowledgeable and are one of the top real estate law firms in NYC because we keep up-to-date with the NY real estate law blog, NY real estate commission law, and NY real estate law. We represent both buyers and sellers in the greater New York City area including all its boroughs, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York. If you’re selling or purchasing your home, you need to consult with the best real estate law firms NYC.

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